Financial adviser who led investment scheme commits suicide

ATLANTA, Ga. -- A man convicted in a multimillion dollar investment fraud whose victims included pro football players has committed suicide in jail.

Kirk Wright hanged himself Saturday in the Union City jail, Betty Honey, an investigator with the Fulton County Medical Examiner's office, said on Sunday.

The 37-year-old Wright, of Marietta, Ga., was convicted Wednesday of leading an investment scheme that bilked millions of dollars from clients ranging from NFL players to his mother.

Wright faced as many as 710 years in prison and a fine of up to $16 million. He already had been hit with a $20 million judgment as part of a civil lawsuit filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Honey said no foul play is suspected in Wright's death.

A lawsuit against the NFL and its players union by six former players is pending in federal court in Atlanta. The lawsuit claims the players lost more than $20 million to Wright, who the players claim was endorsed by the union even though he had liens against him.

The union has filed a countersuit saying it does not endorse financial advisers and is not responsible what happened.

Wright was to be sentenced Aug. 26 after a federal jury found him guilty of mail fraud, securities fraud and money laundering. The charges stemmed from the 2006 collapse of his Atlanta-based hedge fund company, International Management Associates.

"My only reaction to it is that I am very saddened by it," said Michael O'Leary, one of Wright's lawyers. "I feel very badly for his family."

Authorities say Wright took in $150 million from thousands of clients and used false documents to make them believe their investments were doing well, when he actually was losing money in the market. Prosecutors say Wright spent clients' money on jewelry, real estate, luxury vehicles and a $500,000 wedding.

Prosecutors say he fled the city when suspicions arose about his financial dealings.

He was arrested May 2006 at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Miami Beach, Fla., where he was staying under an alias. Authorities have said Wright had $30,000 in cash and fake IDs in his hotel room.

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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