- Associated Press - Monday, May 26, 2014

WILMINGTON, N.C. (AP) - Former North Carolina Rep. Thomas Wright was released from prison Monday after spending more than six years behind bars for mishandling charity contributions and fraudulently obtaining a $150.000 loan.

Wright left a minimum-security prison in Wilmington around 6:30 a.m., state Department of Public Safety spokesman Keith Acree said.

A probation officer picked him up at the prison and drove the Democrat from Wilmington home, Acree said. Wright will now serve nine months of post-release supervision.

Wright’s downfall began in 2006 when the State Board of Elections received a complaint about how he handled his money.

An investigation discovered Wright took donations from AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals and Anheuser-Busch that were meant for his charitable foundation and put them in his personal bank account instead. A jury also convicted Wright on charges he fraudulently obtained a $150,000 bank loan in part by getting a state official to write a bogus letter on his behalf.

Wright would also be convicted of failing to report $150,000 in political contributions over seven years.

Just weeks before his 2008 convictions, the House kicked the eight-term Democrat out of office, making the first time a sitting legislator had been expelled from office by his own colleagues in 128 years. Wright’s lawyer said it was unfair to try him in criminal court so soon after his expulsion made headlines.

Wright testified at his own trial, blaming his mistakes on sloppy record keeping. He said he never showed the fake letter to the bank to get the loan.

Wright blamed his political problems on failing to support a fellow Democrat in the 2006 elections.

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