Daughter of President Obama’s ex-pastor sentenced to 2 years for fraud

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By the Chicago Tribune

The daughter of President Barack Obama’s former pastor was sentenced Thursday to two years in prison for her role in a state grant fraud scheme.

Jeri Wright, 49, was convicted in March 2014 of money laundering, and lying to federal investigators and a grand jury. She’s been in jail since earlier this year, when U.S. District Judge Sue Myerscough revoked Wright’s bail when she found probable cause that Wright was involved in a ghost payrolling scheme at an Indiana plastics company while on bond.

Wright has not been charged for allegedly accepting while on bond more than $8,000 for working at Berry Plastics in Franklin, Ind., when she actually did no work for the company.

The State Journal-Register in Springfield reports that Myerscough, at the conclusion of the sentencing hearing, said she was “troubled by the amount of lying involved” in the case.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Tim Bass said Regina Evans, who was sentenced to five years in prison after she pleaded guilty, was the mastermind of the scheme to siphon more than $900,000 from a $1.25 million state grant intended to fund job training. Ronald Evans was sentenced to one year and Ricky McCoy to six months in prison and six months home confinement for their actions.

“Regina Evans was the engineer, but Jeri Wright chose to get on for the ride, and she rode it to the very end,” Bass said in asking for a 36-month sentence.

Wright is the daughter of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, whose contentious statements were an issue in Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign. The minister was not involved in the fraud scheme.

Defense attorney Victor Henderson presented character witnesses including two ministers and Jeri Wright’s sister and son. All four used the word “shocked” when asked about their reaction to learning Wright had been charged.

Psychologist William Hillman testified that he found Wright to have a personality disorder that “placed a firewall between her and reality.” He said the main manifestation of the disorder was “the compelling capacity of Miss Wright to use denial as a defense mechanism.”

Wright told the court before sentencing that she has tried for three years to understand what happened. She said she didn’t think before she acted and put the interests of others before her own.

“I accept full responsibility for not slowing down and focusing on myself,” she said. “I have no one to blame but myself.”

Myerscough also ordered Wright to serve three years on supervised release when her prison sentence is completed, and to serve the first six months of probation in home confinement. She also was ordered to make $31,821 in restitution to the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.

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