Former Obama pastor Jeremiah Wright’s daughter faces more legal trouble
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Jeri L. Wright — the daughter of President Barack Obama’s controversial former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright — is in more trouble with the law.
Authorities want to revoke her bail on a money-laundering conviction last year, saying she also stole nearly $8,200 in a separate ghost-payrolling scheme.
Wright, 49, of Hazel Crest, appeared Friday in federal court in Springfield, where a judge heard prosecutors’ arguments to revoke the deal that has allowed her to remain free on bail as she awaits sentencing, said Sharon Paul, a U.S. attorney’s office spokeswoman. No decision was reached, and the hearing is set to continue Monday afternoon.
Wright is the daughter of the Rev. Wright, whose sermons caused headaches for Obama in his first campaign for president in 2008.
Between Feb. 12, 2014, and May 28, 2014, Jeri Wright is now accused of drawing 13 payments totaling $8,192 from a temporary staffing agency “for work she never performed” for a plastics factory in Franklin, Indiana. U.S. Probation Officer Eric W. Fox said in court filings that Wright “committed theft” by accepting the payments, which he said were authorized by a since-fired plant manager now under investigation for “making fraudulent credit card charges and hiring several” ghost payrollers.
Neither Wright nor the manager has been charged. But prosecutors say that Wright’s alleged theft violates the terms of her bail and are asking U.S. District Judge Sue E. Myerscough to revoke it.
Wright’s lawyer, Victor P. Henderson, said in a court filing Thursday night that “if there were probable cause that Ms. Wright had done something illegal, she would have been arrested” and that “these theft allegations are only in the investigative stage.”
The alleged ghost-payrolling overlapped with Wright’s weeklong trial in Springfield in early March 2014. That trial ended with her being found guilty of money-laundering, lying to federal investigators and lying to a grand jury after being involved in a $1.25 million state grant-fraud scheme orchestrated by former Country Club Hills police Chief Regina Evans.
With backing from state Sen. Donne Trotter, D-Chicago, and former Rep. Marlow Colvin, D-Chicago, Evans and her husband, Ronald, secured a state job-training grant designed to help minorities learn the construction trade. But state officials and federal prosecutors have said that about $900,000 of that wound up going directly into the Evanses’ pockets, with virtually none of the money going toward its intended use.
Both Evans and her husband admitted misspending state funds to renovate their Country Club Hills home, buy furniture and pay down loans on a former Chicago home and the historic but dilapidated Regal Theater, for which the couple took out a $2 million loan they couldn’t repay. That’s where the job-training was to be done.
Wright, a childhood friend of Regina Evans, is accused of pocketing as much as $11,000 of the misspent state money, using it partly to pay a car loan, and lying to federal authorities and a grand jury when asked about the money.