The Richmond Register

March 25, 2013

Former Mason enters Alford plea, must repay $13,000 to local lodge

By Sarah Hogsed
Register News Writer

RICHMOND — A former Madison County man accused of stealing thousands from a Richmond Masonic Lodge entered an Alford plea in circuit court, and the state is recommending a five-year sentence.

John D. Wright, 28, entered the plea last week to a charge of theft by failure to make required disposition of property, according to Commonwealth’s Attorney David Smith.

An Alford plea means the defendant does not admit guilt but acknowledges that enough evidence exists for a conviction.

The prosecution recommended Wright receive a sentence of five years in prison. His plea deal also requires that he pay $13,000 in restitution to the lodge, Smith said.

The crime was investigated by the Kentucky State Police.

The sentence recommendation is the minimum for the Class C felony, which carries a sentencing range of five to 10 years in prison.

Wright was a treasurer of the Masonic Temple Company when, from July 2009 to April 2011, he was accused of stealing the money, according to an indictment handed down in February 2012. He reportedly “obtained company funds ... and then dealt with the funds as his own and thereby obtained property from the company of the value of more than $10,000.”

His sentencing in Madison Circuit Court is scheduled for 2 p.m. May 9.

Wright caused waves in the Kentucky Masonic community in 2010 when he told members of his Clark County lodge that he was gay after he divorced his wife, according to a Lexington Herald-Leader article. He joined the organization in 2007.

A Frankfort lodge proposed a change to the group’s state constitution that would prohibit openly gay men from being Masons, but the proposal was rejected by vote during a 2010 Masonic statewide gathering, according to the article.

However, a 2011 Masonic trial on mutliple counts found Wright guilty of “un-Masonic conduct,” and he was indefinitely suspended, the newspaper reported.

Wright ran for District 4 constable in Madison County during the 2010 election. He came in third-place for the Democratic primary.

Sarah Hogsed can be reached at shogsed@richmondregister.com or 624-6694.