A Wake County grand jury indicted state Rep. Thomas Wright on six felony charges Monday. The decision comes just a little more than a year after the investigation into the Wilmington democrat's campaign finance reports began. It started in December 2006 when former democratic consultant Joe Sinsheimer filed a complaint with the state Board of Elections accusing Wright of misusing campaign money. In May Wright refused to testify before a state Board of Elections hearing when evidence showed he had failed to report more than $100,000 in campaign contributions and spent other campaign money on personal expenses. Wake County District Attorney Colon Willoughby then started looking at the criminal aspects of the case. The state House also launched an ethics investigation and Speaker Joe Hackney asked Wright to resign. Wright would not. In September the Board of Elections suspended Wright's re-election campaign because he had not filed the necessary reports. Monday came the criminal indictments. Wright is still allowed to keep his seat in the House. Willoughby says authorities will arrest Wright in the next few days on felony fraud charges. Since the investigation in to his campaign finance records began a year ago, other state officials have repeatedly asked Wright to step down. Sen. Julia Boseman, D-9th district, said, "We've had to pick up the slack in the Senate and the other members of the local delegation, which we're happy to do but those folks deserve someone up there fighting for them, someone who is going to represent them, and not themselves." As Thomas Wright heads in to an election year he also faces a criminal trial. Wright was indicted on six felony charges by a Wake County grand jury -- charges that could land Wright in prison. Rep. Bonner stiller, R-17th district, said, "In the next few days, charges will be served on Mr. Wright and a court date will be set and that will begin the court involved in that matter." And this decision by the grand jury may not be the end of Wright's personal and professional trouble. Stiller said, "Additional warrants, indictments, can come down as well. And what it means to him is that this is the beginning of the process of actually having to go defend himself against charges." Wright did not answer the door when we went to his house Monday for comment. But he has said in the past he will not resign -- that decision is up to the voters. If Wright is convicted of a felony he would automatically lose the right to serve in the state legislature. But that's not the only way he could lose his seat. The House ethics committee can now resume its investigation and could expel him from the General Assembly.
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