A former Texas street preacher accused of participating in a years-long multistate conspiracy to kidnap and enslave disabled adults was sentenced Thursday to 27 years in federal prison, capping another chapter in Philadelphia's notorious Tacony dungeon case.
Eddie Wright, 57, was the fourth of five coconspirators to be sentenced for a series of crimes that ended in 2011, when four malnourished adults were found locked in the basement boiler room of an apartment house on Longshore Avenue.
The operation's ringleader, Linda Weston, pleaded guilty and received a life sentence in 2015. Her daughter, Jean McIntosh, and another coconspirator, Nicklaus Woodard — each received lengthy prison sentences in the last several weeks. The case against a fifth coconspirator, Gregory Thomas, remains unresolved.
U.S. Attorney William M. McSwain said in a statement Thursday: "After years of work by a team of dedicated prosecutors and investigators, justice has finally prevailed in this case."
Wright — also known as "Pastor Wright" — was accused of joining Weston's conspiracy in 2009, when both lived in Killeen, Texas. According to court documents, he began helping to confine and control Weston's disabled victims, and also helped transport them from Texas to West Palm Beach, Fla., and later to Philadelphia — movements undertaken to avoid detection by law enforcement.
Wright's attorney, Brendan T. McGuigan, said after Thursday's hearing that he believed the sentence imposed by U.S. District Judge Cynthia M. Rufe was fair. Wright pleaded guilty in 2015, and McGuigan said: "He has accepted responsibility. I believe he's remorseful for his actions."
A sentencing memorandum prepared by McGuigan acknowledged that Wright's actions were "horrible." Prosecutors said Weston, Wright, and their coconspirators regularly beat the victims, fed them a diet of ramen noodles, rice, and beans, and prohibited them from using a toilet or bathing, among other indignities.