PHILADELPHIA – A self-proclaimed street preacher, who had a role in the kidnapping, torture, and slavery mentally handicapped adults chained in a dank basement, has been sentenced to 27 years in prison.
The U. S. Attorney’s Office in Philadelphia announced that Eddie “the Reverend Ed Wright was on Thursday convicted and sentenced for the scheme that lasted from 2001 to October 2011. He is the second of the five people charged in the case that shocked Philadelphia and the nation to be sentenced this week, after Nicklaus Woodard was sentenced to 27 years old, on Tuesday.
Last month, Jean McIntosh was sentenced to 40 years in prison for her role. McIntosh helped prosecutors build a case against her mother, Linda Weston, the leader of the group of victims imprisoned for years in a cramped basement in the plan to steal more than $200,000 in government benefits.
Weston previously pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life in prison plus 80 years to avoid the death penalty. Court records Thursday showed the federal charges were still pending against Greg Thomas, Weston’s ex-boyfriend.
The five suspects were charged with 196 counts after police rescued four people from the basement in October 2011. Details of the squalid conditions, abuse, and forced prostitution of the victims started to come to light in the loading documents and the case got national attention.
Prosecutors said the five suspects forced and put under pressure for a number of mentally disabled prisoners in making Weston their designated beneficiaries for their benefits. They shuttled prisoners between the different states to avoid being caught, and often locked in basements, closets and other confined spaces, they give the minimum food often enriched with tranquilizers.
At least one of the prisoners, testified she was forced to make children with another prisoner. She said Weston and her daughter took her child and told her that he had died, but later claimed that the baby was theirs for the collection of more benefits.