Charges refiled against fourth man in Philadelphia basement case

Reuters News
Posted: Dec 22, 2011 3:38 PM
Charges refiled against fourth man in Philadelphia basement case

PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - Prosecutors on Thursday refiled charges against one of four people accused of holding captives in a Philadelphia basement, just two days after a judge cleared him of any wrongdoing.

Eddie Wright, 50, remained in custody on Thursday, accused in the scheme to steal Social Security benefits from four mentally handicapped adults who were locked in a basement furnace room, said the district attorney's office.

He was charged again with kidnapping, aggravated assault, unlawful restraint, false imprisonment, making terrorist threats and stalking.

Those are the same criminal charges he and three others faced in a preliminary hearing on Tuesday before Judge Patrick Dugan in the city's Municipal Court. Dugan ruled the others should go to trial next month but dismissed all charges against Wright, calling him a "victim" in the case.

Ordered to trial were the alleged ringleader Linda Weston, 51, Gregory Thomas, 47 and Weston's daughter, Jean McIntosh, 32, for a criminal trial set to begin next month.

Wright's lawyer, Louis D'Onofrio, on Thursday noted that just two days earlier a judge determined his client was wronged but did nothing wrong himself.

"The court found that Mr. Wright was held captive by Linda Weston who also stole his money and mistreated him," said D'Onofrio.

Wright was scheduled for another preliminary hearing, this time on January 20, to determine if there is enough evidence to go to trial. A judge has not yet been selected, his lawyer said.

(Reporting by Dave Warner; Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Jerry Norton)