Jeri Wright, the daughter of Barack Obama’s former pastor Jeremiah Wright, was convicted on Friday of laundering thousands of dollars from a state grant for a Chicago-area job-training program, federal prosecutors said.
A federal jury found Jeri Wright, 48, guilty on all counts for her part in a fraud scheme led by a former suburban police chief and the chief’s husband, according to the US Attorney’s office for the Central District of Illinois in Springfield.
The $1.25 million state grant was for a not-for-profit work and education program called We Are Our Brother’s Keeper, owned by Regina Evans, former police chief of Country Club Hills, and her husband, Ronald Evans Jr.
Jeri Wright, a close friend of the couple, took as much as $11,000 from checks worth more than $30,000 that were supposed to be for work related to the grant, prosecutors said. About $20,000 was deposited back into accounts controlled by Regina and Ronald Evans.
Jeri Wright is the daughter of Barack Obama’s former pastor Jeremiah Wright
Regina and Ronald Evans has pleaded guilty to the fraud scheme.
The grant agreement was supposed to provide bricklaying and electrical pre-apprenticeship training and GED preparation at the Regal Theater, another entity owned by the couple. Little, if any, of the training provided in the grant agreement was ever completed, according to prosecutors.
Jeremiah Wright was the Chicago pastor whose inflammatory church sermons, which often condemned US attitudes on race, poverty and other issues, became a focus during the 2008 presidential campaign.
Jeri Wright also was convicted of making false statements to law enforcement officers and giving false testimony to a grand jury.
The maximum penalty for money laundering is up to 20 years in prison, and five years in prison on the other counts.
Jeri Wright told reporters outside the Springfield federal court house that she will appeal. Sentencing is scheduled for July 7.
Barack Obama tried to convince Reverend Jeremiah Wright to keep quiet during 2008 US presidential campaign and offered his former pastor $150,000, claims Edward Klein’s book, The Amateur.
Jeremiah Wright, a retired pastor who came under fire after an old sermon where he said that the September 11 terrorist attacks were “America’s chickens coming home to roost”, said that he was offered $150,000 to stay silent until the election was over.
Journalist Edward Klein interviewed Jeremiah Wright and included their conversation in his new book, The Amateur.
“After the media went ballistic on me, I received an email offering me money not to preach until the November presidential election,” Jeremiah Wright told the author, as relayed by The New York Post.
Jeremiah Wright said that “one of Barack’s closest friends” sent an email to a member of the church saying that he would pay $150,000 for the pastor to keep quiet for fear of saying something incendiary.
The Reverend said that following the incident, the then-candidate Barack Obama requested a private, secret meeting with him to make a personal plea.
Barack Obama tried to convince Reverend Jeremiah Wright to keep quiet during 2008 US presidential campaign and offered his former pastor $150,000, claims Edward Klein’s book, The Amateur
Jeremiah Wright said that, while he wasn’t sure whether or not Barack Obama was wearing a wire, they met and discussed their options.
“And one of the first things Barack said was, <<I really wish you wouldn’t do any more public speaking until after the November election>>,” Jeremiah Wright told Edward Klein.
“He knew I had some speaking engagements lined up, and he said, <<I wish you wouldn’t speak. It’s gonna hurt the campaign if you do that.>>”
Barack Obama, who was in the midst of navigating the ensuing political storm that occurred after Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s comments went public, hoped to stem the tide by getting his long-time family friend to ease off until Election Day.
“Barack said, <<I’m sorry you don’t see it the way I do. Do you know what your problem is?>> And I said, <<No, what’s my problem?>> And he said, <<You have to tell the truth>>. I said, <<That’s a good problem to have. That’s a good problem for all preachers to have. That’s why I could never be a politician>>,” Jeremiah Wright said in the interview.
Barack Obama went into damage-control mode after the video of the sermon went viral, and delivered a well-received speech on the racial state of America.
In the speech, called “A More Perfect Union”, Barack Obama criticized the political views of Jeremiah Wright but tried to balance his personal history with the man and his controversial thoughts.
“I have already condemned, in unequivocal terms, the statements of Reverend Wright that have caused such controversy,” Barack Obama said in the March speech.
“I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community.”