RALEIGH -- Was Thomas Wright involved in a real estate scam? That's what Wake County DA Colon Willoughby tried to prove during the second day of testimony in the trial of the former Wilmington lawmaker. Thomas Wright was results-oriented rather than detail-oriented. That's the picture Wright's lawyer tried to paint today as the state worked to prove the Wilmington lawmaker was at the helm of a real estate scam. Investigators say Wright used a letter promising state money to get a loan to buy a building in downtown Wilmington for a health foundation and 1898 Race Riot museum. But that promise was bogus, according to its author, former Department of Health and Human Services Director Torlen Wade. The banker who gave Wright the loan testified today that he did so thinking the state grant was legitimate and would serve to repay the loan. He testified that had he known the state grant was false, he might not have given Wright the loan. Treasurer of Wright's health foundation, Dr. Dan Gottovi testified that Wright told him he would pay back the loan with the state grant. But when Wright defaulted on the loan payments Gottovi began paying interest on the loan out of his own pocket to keep the bank from foreclosing. The health foundation never raised the necessary capital to repay the loan, so the bank foreclosed on the property. Gottovi however testified that he trusted Wright and worked with him for many years on various health-related projects. Wright's former administrative assistant echoed those remarks, testifying today that she never saw Wright do anything dishonest. Wright was facing five counts of obtaining property false pretenses, but one of those charges has been thrown out. He also faces one count of obstruction of justice, but that may be tried separately. If convicted Wright could face up to 11 years in prison. Wright's lawyer says his client will testify in his own behalf. As of now Thomas Wright is still on the ballot for the May 6 primary. A spokesperson for the state Board of Elections says even if Wright is convicted before that it is unlikely his name would be taken off the ballot until all appeals have been exhausted.
- Video Central
- About WWAY