Thomas Wright Sentenced

Danny McComas
Danny McComas

RALEIGH-- Former Representative Thomas Wright has been sentenced to between six and eight years in prison for fraud.

After six hours of deliberations carried over a weekend, a verdict was handed down around noon on Monday. Wright was found guilty on three of four counts of felony fraud.

The Wake County jury ruled that Wright mishandled thousands of dollars in charitable contributions from Anheuser-Busch and AstraZeneca Pharmaceutical Company, and fraudulently obtained a $150,000 bank loan.

He was acquitted of mishandle a $1,500 donation from AT&T.

Wright declined to comment and showed little emotion during the trial.

Moments before the guilty verdict, Wright was in relatively good spirits.  After hearing the decision from the jury, Wright and his attorney still left the court confident that his name would be cleared.

Wright said nothing as he left the courtroom, leaving the words to his attorney.

"I'm not shocked, really everyone had seen the story and made up their mind," said Doug Harris.

Attorney Harris said he was even surprised the jury found his client not guilty of the third count of fraud.

Harris promised an appeal and blamed Wright's political enemies for instigating the investigation.

"I believe any appeals court will set this aside as injustice, maybe even the Soviet Union," said Harris.

Harris seems to be setting Wright up for a much longer fight than this week-long trial.

"I told Tom Wright he would probably be convicted here today, but he'll be vindicated in the end," said Harris.

Harris said he'll ask the courts to work quickly on the appeal.

Wright is still going to be on the Primary ballot in May, and in the eyes of the board of elections is still eligible to run as long as his appeal is ongoing.

If that appeal doesn't work, Wright will go to prison for up to eight years.

And it hasn't taken long for Wright's guilty verdict to spread through the House of Representatives.

Wilmington Representative Danny McComas said he received several calls from other House members after the verdict came down.

He said they've all been following the case closely over the past several months.

McComas said it's an unfortunate situation, but Wright must be held accountable.

He also said it's time for the Representatives to focus on their constituents.

Reported by Joe Keiley