Thomas Wright Faces Criminal Fraud Charges

RALEIGH -- Former State Representative Thomas Wright is facing criminal fraud charges in Wake County and was in court Monday.

Similar accusations led to a historic vote 11 days ago, that expelled the Wilmington Democrat from the General Assembly.

Wright's attorneys asked for a delay, saying the negative publicity from the House vote would make it tough to find impartial jurors.

Eight men and four women were picked to hear the case.

The judge ruled Wright should only face four counts of fraud.  One fraud will be sent to the New Hanover County District Attorney's office for trial, and the obstruction of justice charge will be tried separately.

Prosecutors said Wright fraudulently obtained $160 thousand in bank loans, and kept another $190 thousand in contributions meant for his campaign or health foundation.

A guilty verdict could send Wright to prison for up to 11 years.

Wake County District Attorney Colin Willoughby said he wants to complete the trial quickly, so it doesn't interfere with the May 6 primary elections.

Wright is on the ballot, running to win back the seat he held for eight terms.

Reported by Jon Evans