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DOT to rename bridge after Lanny Wilson

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- The North Carolina Department of Transportation tomorrow will rename a Wilmington bridge in honor of a former Board of Transportation member who quit amidst controversy.

The DOT says a ceremony tomorrow at 3 p.m. at Screen Gems Studios on N. 23rd Street will rename the nearby bridge at Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway after Lanny T. Wilson of Wilmington. Transportation Secretary Gene Conti will give keynote remarks. Wilson is also scheduled to attend, according to a DOT spokeswoman.

Wilson, a developer and longtime Democratic Party fundraiser, resigned his post as Southeastern North Carolina's representative to the Transportation Board in 2010 as federal prosecutors were set to release a 51-count indictment against Ruffin Poole, a former aide to Gov. Mike Easley. Poole wound up serving prison time for his crimes.

While Wilson was not charged with any crimes, the Poole indictment identified Wilson as a "Wilmington financier" who was a major player in the "pay-to-play" culture of the Easley administration.

In the fall of 2009, Wilson testified before the state Board of Elections about large checks he wrote to the Democratic Party for Easley's campaign. Wilson also loaned money to a company to finance the sale of a Carteret County development that was part of a federal probe into Easley's activities.

Wilmington City Council passed a resolution earlier this year to ask for the name change to honor Wilson. A DOT spokeswoman says the NCDOT Board of Transportation approved the change in September.

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