Councilman's Aide Sentenced To 4 Years In Prison

Chris Wright, the former chief of staff for City Councilman Jack Kelly, was sentenced this afternoon to four years in federal prison after his conviction in February on bribery and other corruption charges.  U.S. District Justice Eduardo Robreno handed down the sentence after a hearing that took up most of the morning.

Wright received less time than prosecutors wanted but much more than his defense attorney hoped for.  His potential prison term was a moving target. Robreno concluded today that federal guidelines for the prison term should be 51-63 months, more than he eventually got. Prosecutors were seeking 78 months -- six and a half years -- in prison for Wright.  His attorney, Lisa Mathewson, argued today that Wright should receive home confinement or, at the most, one year and one day in prison.  A probation officer had recommended 27-33 months in prison for Wright.

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Former state Sen. Vince Fumo's recent controversial sentence of 55 months entered into the fray last week when prosecutors called his 55 month prison sentence, handed down by a different federal judge, a "travesty" that should not be repeated in the Wright case.  They later dialed back the language in an amended filing but still used Fumo as an example of how not to deal with Wright.

Wright was convicted on Feb. 24 with Andy Teitelman and Ravinder Chawla. Chawla's brother, Hardeep, was acquitted. Teitelman was Kelly's campaign manager. Chawla was one of his most generous campaign contributors. They both will be sentenced next month. Wright received a rent-free apartment near Rittenhouse Square and free legal services from Chawla and Teitelman in return for help on real estate, zoning and tax issues, a jury concluded.

Wright went on unpaid leave one year ago from his $97,179-per-year job in Kelly's office after he was indicted.  Kelly, who secretly recorded conversations with Kelly and Chawla for federal investigators, quickly moved to fire him after his conviction.

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