Local Politics

Appeals Court ruling on Wright could affect Easley

Posted August 3, 2010

— The North Carolina Court of Appeals on Tuesday again rejected arguments from a former state House member seeking to have his convictions overturned.

Wilmington Democrat Thomas Wright is serving a 70- to 95-month prison term on charges of obtaining property by false pretense for mishandling charity contributions and obstruction of justice for failing to report $150,000 in campaign contributions and nearly $77,000 he transferred from campaign accounts to himself.

Wright’s attorney argued there wasn’t enough evidence showing Wright engaged in common law obstruction. The court last fall upheld Wright’s fraud convictions from an earlier trial.

Appellate judges ruled each misdemeanor offense combined into a pattern of deceit.

"I think the courts have reinforced the concept that this kind of behavior is not going to be tolerated," said Wake County District Attorney Colon Willoughby, who prosecuted Wright.

When applied to other cases, he said, malice and intent must be proven.

Former federal prosecutor Dan Boyce said the ruling could be an indicator of what is to come in the state investigation of Gov. Mike Easley and his dealings with political contributors while in office.

Wright ruling could have Easley effect Wright ruling could have Easley effect

In fact, Boyce said two recent rulings could affect the Easley case. The gutting of the so-called “honest services” law will make it harder for federal investigators to build a case. However, the appeals ruling could make it easier to prosecute on the state level.

"This is a precedent-setting case," Boyce said. "I think this has a tremendous impact on the potential for state charges."

The State Board of Elections has already fined the Easley campaign for unreported and unpaid flights. Questions also arose about influence and favors.

Boyce said the Wright decision opens the door for an Easley case, but only if there's proof someone plotted to hide the truth.

"Any intentional effort to somehow conceal or misrepresent facts could come under an obstruction of justice felony charge," Boyce said.

Rowan County District Attorney Bill Kenerly, who was out of town Tuesday and could not be reached, is handling the Easley case. He has yet to decide whether to file criminal charges.


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  • justiceforall Aug 3, 2010

    As someone said, 'No one has the cajones' to convict Easley.

  • woodrowboyd2 Aug 3, 2010

    i love to see someone with commonsense whine

  • kodac31 Aug 3, 2010

    Easley will get whats coming to him...and that Federal Prison!!! He ruined a lot of State Employees lives with his political corruption. Bev Perdue, you aren't off the hook yet either, your day in Federal Court is coming too!

  • UPTOP Aug 3, 2010

    Wow that goes to show u, you can't do what the good ole boys do !

  • jet2rdu Aug 3, 2010

    The Appeals court got it Wright. Let us hope that this ruling might make other Pirates of Jones Street consider the consequences of some of their questionable actions against the citizens of NC. Taking 5 to 7 years away from someone over 50 years of age is not trivial.

  • oustobama12 Aug 3, 2010

    Another Democrat gets caught- THIS time. I wouldn't be so quick to single out any political party when it comes to corruption. We need to clean house in November and again in November 2012.

  • commonsense4 Aug 3, 2010

    And Jack Abramoff went to jail while Bush, Rove and Delay should have as well. Delay funded the IMF with taxpayer money after directing contributions under different names and Bush claimed to not know Abramoff while he attended many functions and had over 400 contacts with the White House. Rove has known him for over 20 years but Bush didn't - yeah right and I'm sure he didn't influence the white house in any way. Almost all of them are corrupt but many of you clueless ranters just like to polarize yourselves because you have so much anger. Instead channel that anger into something constructive - I know that makes way too much sense.

  • DontLikeTheSocialistObama Aug 3, 2010

    Another corrupt Democrat goes down in North Carolina.

    Before a democrat says anything, Phipps and Black went to jail for corruption and Easley and Perdue are being investigated for questionable activities concerning campaign finances and free airplane rides.

  • RevD Aug 3, 2010

    "More Democratic corruption!"

    So that implies that there is no such thing as Republican corruption?? Please!! Corruption exists. NO party has ever escaped it and unfortunately, none ever will. Maybe you never heard the words of the Master: "There is none righteous, no not one." This includes you and me....

  • RevD Aug 3, 2010

    More Democratic corruption!