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Rev. Jeremiah Wright's daughter found guilty of money laundering

SPRINGFIELD—The daughter of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, President Barack Obama’s former minister, was convicted by a federal jury Friday of laundering thousands of dollars from a $1.25 million state grant for a Chicago-based job-training program.

Jeri Wright said she would "definitely" appeal the verdict in U.S. District Court, which found her guilty of 11 counts that included money laundering, lying to federal agents and lying to a grand jury.

"I didn't do anything," Wright, 48, of Hazel Crest, said as she left the Springfield courtroom. Her father, whose preaching became a lightning rod during Obama's first presidential campaign, was not part of the case.

Her attorney described Wright as a victim of a web spun by longtime friend Regina Evans, the former Country Club Hills police chief who has pleaded guilty to corruption in the case. Evans had secured the state loan for the job-training program but allegedly diverted the money rather than use it for the purpose she proposed.

Prosecutor Timothy Bass contended Wright took as much as $11,000 in cash from more than $30,000 in checks in a scheme where she also sent money back to Evans. Bass maintained Wright lied “over and over” when quizzed about the case.

Bass maintained in closing arguments that Wright was “given an opportunity” and took it in a state that has a “well-earned” reputation for corruption.

Evans applied for the grant in February 2009 for a group called We Are Our Brother's Keepers.The proposal called for 40 people to get training in bricklaying and electrician skills, but the money allegedly was diverted.

Within months, Evans began tapping the funds for what Bass had called a "spending spree," including a trip to Las Vegas, a basement remodeling and the purchase of vehicles for a security business with her husband.

rlong@tribune.com

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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