Saturday, August 30, 2014
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Defense: Chris Wright Not Bribed But Helped By Friends

We're almost done with opening arguments in the federal corruption trial for City Councilman Jack Kelly's former chief of staff and three political allies. A couple of themes are emerging from the defense. One - This all started when the FBI showed up at Jack Kelly's house one morning and said they were investigating him. And two - Kelly's chief of staff, Chris Wright, is an alcoholic who relapsed after rehab while going through a divorce and had friends who tried to help him with money and a place to live.

Defense: Chris Wright Not Bribed But Helped By Friends

We’re almost done with opening arguments in the federal corruption trial for City Councilman Jack Kelly’s former chief of staff and three political allies. A couple of themes are emerging from the defense. One – This all started when the FBI showed up at Jack Kelly’s house one morning and said they were investigating him. And two – Kelly’s chief of staff, Chris Wright, is an alcoholic who relapsed after rehab while going through a divorce and had friends who tried to help him with money and a place to live.

Those friends? Andy Teitelman, Kelly’s campaign treasurer and real estate developers Hardeep and Ravinder Chawla, brothers who have supported Kelly with campaign contributions.

“You’ll hear evidence that Councilman Kelly was a deer in the headlights,” Teitelman’s attorney, Bill DeStefano told the jury when explaining why Kelly secretly recorded conversations for federal investigators with Wright and Ravinder Chawla. “He didn’t think his chief of staff did anything wrong.”

Lisa Mathewson, Wright’s attorney, said there was “surprisingly little” disagreement between the defense and the prosecution on what happened. She said a rent-free apartment Wright received near Rittenhouse Square, worth more than $15,000 according to prosecutors, was an uninhabitable dump and merely a “crash pad” set up by his friends to keep him off the road while drunk.

“Ask yourself: Is this where you would put someone you are trying to bribe?” Mathewson said. “Was it to grease him or was it a place that his friend wanted him to have as a crash pad so that he didn’t drink and drive?”

About this blog
Chris Brennan, a native Philadelphian and graduate of Temple University, joined the Daily News in 1999. He has written about SEPTA, the Philadelphia School District, the legalization of casino gambling, state government, the mayor, the governor, City Council and political campaigns. E-mail tips to brennac@phillynews.com
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Jenny DeHuff is a 2005 graduate of the University of Rhode Island, where she cut her teeth in journalism. A South Philly transplant from New England, she joined the Daily News City Hall Bureau in 2013. For the past several years, she has worked as an investigative reporter exposing corruption in suburban politics, covering sometimes ghastly criminal court cases and following the people’s money and how its spent. In addition to being a dogged news hound, she enjoys reading and writing about travel, animals, Irish whiskey and aviation. E-mail tips to dehuffj@phillynews.com
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Sean Collins Walsh is from Bucks County and went to Northwestern University. He joined the Daily News copy desk in 2012 and now covers the Nutter administration. Before that, he interned at papers including The New York Times, The Dallas Morning News and The Seattle Times. E-mail tips to walshSE@phillynews.com
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