Street preacher sen­tenced to 27 years

The Daily Press (Timmins) - - WORLD NEWS -

PHILADEL­PHIA—Aself-pro­claimed street preacher who had a role in kid­nap­ping, tor­tur­ing and en­slav­ing men­tally dis­abled adults chained up in a filthy base­ment has been sen­tenced to 27 years in prison.

The U.S. At­tor­ney’s Of­fice in Philadel­phia, Penn., an­nounced that Ed­die “the Rev­erend Ed” Wright was sen­tenced Thurs­day for the scheme that lasted from 2001 to Oc­to­ber 2011. He is the sec­ond of the five peo­ple charged in the case that shocked the U.S. to be sen­tenced this week, af­ter Nick­laus Woodard was also sen­tenced to 27 years on Tues­day.

Last month, Jean McIn­tosh was sen­tenced to 40 years prison for her role. McIn­tosh helped build a case against her mother, Linda We­ston, the ring­leader of the group that held vic­tims cap­tive 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. Charges are still pend­ing against Greg Thomas, We­ston’s for­mer boyfriend.

In all, the five de­fen­dants were charged with 196 counts af­ter po­lice res­cued four peo­ple from the base­ment in Oc­to­ber 2011. De­tails of the squalid con­di­tions, phys­i­cal abuse and forced pros­ti­tu­tion of the vic­tims be­gan to come to light in charg­ing doc­u­ments.

Pros­e­cu­tors said the five de­fen­dants co­erced and pres­sured some of the men­tally dis­abled cap­tives into mak­ing We­ston their des­ig­nated pay­ees for their ben­e­fits. They shut­tled the cap­tives be­tween sev­eral states to avoid be­ing caught.

At least one of the cap­tives tes­ti­fied she was forced to have chil­dren with an­other cap­tive. She said We­ston and her daugh­ter took her child and told her he had died, but later claimed the baby was theirs to col­lect more ben­e­fits.

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