A federal judge granted former Bayou La Batre Mayor Stan Wright’s request to end his federal probation early on Tuesday after he served 18 months and 11 days of a three-year sentence.
Wright was convicted in June 2013 on charges of fraud related to a land transaction that netted the former politico $27,300.
However, it was the charges of witness retaliation and intimidation that landed him a 15-month stay in a Texas federal prison — something U.S. District Judge Kristi DuBose called a “deterrent” at his sentencing hearing three years ago.Wright returned to Mobile County for three years of supervised release, but claiming the restrictions on travel made it difficult to rebuild his local seafood business, his attorney requested to end his probation in February.
During a brief hearing on March 15, defense attorney Arthur J. Madden said Wright had complied with all the requirements of his probation — committing no violations and paying a $10,000 and paying $27,300 in restitution to the Federal Emergency Management Agency ahead of schedule.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Maria Murphy argued that being compliant wasn’t a “legally sufficient” reason to end to Wright’s sentence early, adding that his public corruption case was “notorious in this part of Southern Alabama.”
DuBose ruled otherwise, saying she factored in the gravity of his charges when imposing a 15-month prison sentence back in 2013.
She also added that supervised release is not intended to be “punitive.”
“We have a probation office here that is taxed, to say the least, and probation resources should be used on those that are potentially a danger to our community,” DuBose added from the bench.
With his legal woes behind him, Wright said he was “pleased” and would now be able to travel more freely to visit with his customers and suppliers. He also once again denied having knowingly committed fraud.
Wright was convicted of profiting from a federal grant awarded to Bayou La Batre after Hurricane Katrina in 2005 for a real estate transaction but said again on Tuesday he only did so after consulting with the city’s legal counsel.
“I’m 60 years old, and I never took a penny from anybody,” Wright said. “I didn’t need to.”
Just before his conviction, Wright was elected to his third term as mayor, but when asked by reporters, he said he held no continued interest in returning to a political role.
However, he called the residents of the South Mobile County city his “people,” adding that he’d always offer “advice and ideas.”
After thanking DuBose and his probation officers, Wright said he plans to spend time with his family.
“You’re not going to punish a man with three hot meals a day and a bed to lay in, they are the ones that suffer,” he said gesturing toward his wife.
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