Local Politics

Embattled Lawmaker's Loan Draws Scrutiny

Posted November 15, 2007

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— In the latest criminal investigation involving an embattled state lawmaker, authorities last week seized bank records related to a 2001 loan that they said never wound up with a nonprofit organization.

The State Bureau of Investigation executed a search warrant at the North Carolina Minority Support Center in Durham on Nov. 5 and seized records related to New Hanover Community Health Foundation. State Rep. Thomas Wright, D-New Hanover, chairs the organization's board of directors.

Wright, a former ally of disgraced former House Speaker Jim Black, already is under investigation for campaign finance reporting and a real estate deal in Wilmington.

An affidavit filed by SBI Special Agent Rufus Williams states that the records seized last week are being examined as part of an investigation into obtaining property by false pretense.

Wright took out a loan in October 2001 in the name of the health foundation, but the funds were never deposited in the foundation's bank account, according to the affidavit. The size of the loan isn't disclosed.

"The SBI investigation determined that Representative Thomas Wright took money belonging to The Community's Health Foundation Inc. on multiple occasions," Williams said in the the affidavit.

The State Board of Elections determined that Wright deposited three checks made out to the foundation into his personal bank account in 2004 and 2004. The checks, which totaled $8,900, were from AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals, Anheuser-Busch and AT&T.

The elections board in May turned the findings of its investigation into Wright's campaign finances over to the Wake County District Attorney's Office for possible criminal charges. The board was looking into more than $119,000 that political committees reported giving to Wright's campaign since 1992 but that the campaign never identified as receiving.

The SBI also has seized bank records related to Wright's purchase of a building for a museum dedicated to the 1898 Wilmington Race Riot. Wright used his influence to obtain a letter suggesting that state financing would back the museum project when he knew that wasn't true, authorities said.

Wright has refused to step down, saying voters should decide whether he remains in office.

29 Comments

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  • whatusay Nov 16, 2007

    Wright got caught...he is one of many politicians who steal from honest people. These people usually know how to cover their tracks, but some make enemies who betray them.

  • havnfun Nov 16, 2007

    I just hope they keep digging into the rest of the state gov't. With the size of the state gov't budget, you know there must be a lot of corruption. Root it out!

  • BUCKEYEnNC Nov 16, 2007

    Just another crooked politican who got caught. Why deny it? It's all gonna come out. Just come clean, pay your fine, go to club fed and get over it! Maybe he can share a cell w/Jim Black!

  • whatelseisnew Nov 15, 2007

    Sounds like a conviction is on its way. I have no idea how much time he might have to serve, but I certainly hope it is more than Jim Black got; although given his position as speaker Jim should have received life. But let's hope whatever the sentence is the Judge applies the maximum.

  • thepeopleschamp Nov 15, 2007

    People in Wilmington who have known this guy have known he was crooked 2 decades ago. Finally it looks like it's catching up yo him. I remember in the 90's something about some funeral homes he owned and him using his political office to further his private business. Does anyone else remember the specifics?

  • Nancy Nov 15, 2007

    Who was the last elected official that wouldn't leave office here in NC over wrongdoing? Or was that a judge who wouldn't leave the bench?

    It's becoming all too commonplace.

    Thugs in suits.

  • clickclackity2 Nov 15, 2007

    Race has nothingt to do with this..idiots. Politicians, lawyers and alot of people in positions to call the shots on monetary funds often end up on the other side. It's lawyers #1 reason for being disbarred. Moral of the story..not too many honest people in the world today and way too many greedy ones.

  • SportsmanshipMinded Nov 15, 2007

    GayConservative: I think you are suggesting a rewrite of all the ethics and principles we all (Black and White) have been taught.

    Could I suggest you change your handle to "GayLiberal" or "GayRadical"....

    Most conservatives have a little different perspective on ethics and what is right from wrong.

  • SportsmanshipMinded Nov 15, 2007

    To resist resignation is another advanced indication of the "Entitlement Disease". It comes in all flavors statring with the local sales counter and working it's way up to the levels we are seeing here.

  • PaulRevere Nov 15, 2007

    You raaaaaaacist White people! He's only doing this because the institutional racism in this country holds him back. He has no other choice. He's only breaking the laws the White man wrote to protest them!

    /Cash Michaels, NAACP, guilty, gullible White people logic

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