August trial date for Wright

Convicted felon and former Rep. Thomas Wright was back in court Monday, where a judge set a trial date for an outstanding charge against the expelled lawmaker.

Wake County Superior Court Judge Donald Stephens ordered Wright back to trial Aug. 25 on a felony obstruction of justice charge.

Investigators say the former Wilmington County Democrat failed to report $185,000 in campaign contributions, which is a violation of North Carolina's campaign finance laws.

Wright, who has denied any wrongdoing, is pleading not guilty.

He was sentenced to a minimum almost six-year sentence in April, after a jury found him guilty of mishandling charitable contributions and fraudulently obtaining a $150,000 loan. The House had voted to remove Wright from office in the weeks before his conviction for ethics violations.

During the brief hearing Monday, Wright stood next to his lawyer, Doug Harris, wearing an orange-and-white-striped prison uniform but did not address the judge.

Harris said prosecutors have offered a plea deal on the outstanding charge, but that his client is not interested.

“That's an offer from the prosecutor, that's not something we've accepted,” he said.

Harris said he expects the upcoming trial will take four days.

He also asked Stephens to require the Wake County Sheriff's Office to place the former lawmaker in a special cell or holding area during Wright's anticipated overnight stays during the trial.

Public officials and figures commonly are placed in the segregated areas, Harris said, noting that his client stays in such a cell at the Pamlico Correctional Institute, where Wright is serving his sentence.

But Stephens declined to make such an order, instead instructing Harris to ask the department about making such an arrangement.