State News

Convicted lawmaker back in court

Posted August 25, 2008

— Convicted felon and former Rep. Thomas Wright was back in court Monday.

Four months after being sentenced to prison for fraud, Wright returned to Wake County Superior Court for a trial on an outstanding obstruction of justice charge. Prosecutors allege that Wright violated North Carolina's campaign finance laws by failing to report about $150,000 in campaign contributions and using the money for personal purchases.

Defense attorney Douglas Harris argued Monday that the obstruction charge was improper because it is a common law offense. No state statute covers obstruction, so Harris said it should apply only to interference with the judiciary and not to campaign finance violations.

Wright didn't destroy anything, didn't try to hide anything and is guilty only of sloppy bookkeeping, Harris said.

"My guy simply didn't do reporting that he should have done. To me, that's a misdemeanor," he said.

Judge Donald Stephens rejected that argument, and jury selection began late Monday morning.

District Attorney Colon Willoughby said he expects the trial will last two or three days. Willoughby said he doesn't believe Wright will plead guilty to the charges.

Wright, a former New Hanover County Democrat, was sentenced in April to 70 to 95 months in prison after a jury found him guilty of three counts of fraud in the mishandling of charity contributions and fraudulently obtaining a loan.

He became the first lawmaker tossed out of the General Assembly since the 1880s when legislators found him guilty of ethics violations and voted overwhelmingly to expel him.


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  • iamforjustice Aug 25, 2008

    Wright is a good honest man that has been chosen as a scapegoat. This man is innocent. Justice will prevail. I stand behind him 100 percent. I pray that the law will prevail.

  • illegals--GO HOME Aug 25, 2008

    Pooh, pooh on you for being such a useless excuse for a public servant. The only thing you served is your own pocket....but then that is truly why most go into politics to start with!! Don't believe the phony bull that they want to help us poor, tax-burdened citizens. What few politicians have ever put money back into your pocket? Only a very, very few....and then not truly back as everything that had been raised out of sight was never given back!!

    No sympathy from me......a crook is a crook is a matter if he wears a suit and tie or baggy jeans!

  • Adelinthe Aug 25, 2008

    Yeah, and Manson didn't obstruct justice when he hid under the shed either.


    No pity for this guy, but plenty for his family.

    God bless.

    Rev. RB

  • US VET Aug 25, 2008

    The headline shoud read "Convicted Lawbreaker Back In Court."

  • familyfour Aug 25, 2008

    SLOPPY BOOKKEPING? Just didn't report like he should have? ....The IRS will probably do more to him than the judicial system will......

  • SailbadTheSinner Aug 25, 2008

    IMHO, the only legitimate reason for wanting to be in politics is that you truly believe that you can do a better job than the folks that are presently in office.

    Unfortunately, I also believe that ALMOST ANYONE could do a better job than the folks that are presently in office ....


  • Dr. Dataclerk Aug 25, 2008

    Oh well, back to the slammer.

  • bngexpress Aug 25, 2008

    most politicians "claim" to want to be in poilitics to help the people,and perform public service, so as a sentence he should be made to work in the yard at the same public office building that he held ofice in, orange jump suit and all.

  • willis2 Aug 25, 2008

    Too bad the DA couldn't have consolidated these charges earlier. Here we go again with "sloppy accounting."

  • Scubagirl Aug 25, 2008

    WRAL what's the update here?