APRIL 08, 2008
Long infested with corrupt politicians, the North Carolina Legislature has had a fourth lawmaker in just two years convicted of crimes for abusing their office and betraying the public.
Veteran state Representative Thomas Wright was hauled away in handcuffs by armed deputies this week after being sentenced to prison for fraudulently obtaining property and bank loans of $150,000 and stealing nearly $8,000 charitable contributions destined for a health care foundation he headed.
The popular Democrat, long known as champion of the poor and underprivileged, represented Wilmington and last month became the first member of the North Carolina House of Representatives to get kicked out since 1880. He received three consecutive sentences that will keep him in jail for at least five years and possibly as long as seven.
The corrupt lawmaker actually testified in his own defense but the jury obviously didn’t buy his desperate and pathetic story centered on the race card. Wright, who is black, testified that he was targeted by political enemies because he pushed to commemorate the 1898 Wilmington Race Riot in which a group of white supremacists seeking political power massacred dozens of blacks.
Wright is hardly alone when it comes to crooked elected officials in the Tar Heel State. In the last few years three other lawmakers have been convicted of crimes, including former North Carolina House Speaker Jim Black for bribery and obstruction of justice and state representatives Michael Decker for accepting bribes to switch political parties and Paul Miller for defrauding the federal government relating to student loan debt.
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