Wright Trial: Day 4

RALEIGH -- Former Representative Thomas Wright is explaining his side of the story for the first time.

Thursday he took the stand during his criminal trial in Raleigh.

After being kicked out of the State House two weeks ago, Wright is now being tried on charges of fraud.

Wright said he's on trial for fraud because he opposed fellow Democrat, State Senator Julia Boseman.

Wright said he used his own money to fund projects through Communication Health, and then used the charitable donations to pay himself back.

But, Wright couldn't prove this with bank records or checks.  He said he has been searching for checks and receipts but cannot find them.

Wright's wife defends him and said his legal trouble is just sloppy book keeping.

Wright explained his vision for the museum he planned to build to commemorate the 1898 race riots.  He went on to say he paid for things out of his own pocket to help with the project.

When District Attorney Colin Willoughby asked Wright if he showed the bank a letter asking for an $150,000 bank loan, he said he hadn't.  In fact, Wright said he didn't show the letter to anyone.

Wright said the bank gave him the loan without seeing the letter.

The Democrat will continue to testify Friday, when a verdict could be made.

Wright's lawyer made a motion to the judge for a mistrial and a motion to dismiss the trial.  However, both of those motions were denied.

A replacement for Wright's seat in the House could be chosen by Thursday night.

In March, House members voted to remove Wright from his district 18 seat.

Two members from the Democratic parties in Pender and New Hanover Counties will choose Wright's replacement.

The meeting was around 7:00 Thursday night, at the Pender County Courthouse Annex in Burgaw.

The two leading candidates fro the job are Sandra Spaulding-Hughes and Hollis Briggs.

Both filed to run against Wright and will be on the ballot in May, but any Democrat living in the district can ask to be considered.

The committee's pick will be sent to Governor Easley to be appointed.

Stay with WECT for more as this story continues to develop.

Reported by Joe Keiley