Bridges pleads guilty in $2.3 million fraud
By Nathan Hardin
CHARLOTTE — John Knox Bridges, accused of running a $2.3 million Ponzi scheme fraud, pleaded guilty in federal court Thursday morning.
Bridges, of Salisbury, faces between 57 and 71 months in prison. He pleaded guilty to money laundering and securities fraud.
As a part of the agreement, Bridges will have to pay “full restitution.” His cooperation with prosecutors will lead them to ask for a lower sentence, despite the two charges carrying a structured-sentence maximum of 30 years.
Sentencing typically takes at least six months after a plea is entered, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
The plea was signed and handed in this morning in front of United States Magistrate Judge David Keesler.
Bridges was accused of taking $600,000 from the North Carolina Transportation Museum Foundation in Spencer while he was a board member, but Bridges later reimbursed the organization.
Roy Johnson, president of the foundation, said he’s glad to see some a conclusion to the crime.
“We’re satisfied that he’s finally admitted to what he’s done and that he’s going to be punished accordingly and make restitution to everybody like he did us,” Johnson said Thursday.
[0x14]Foundation members spoke with investigators more than a year and a half ago, Johnson said, answering questions and handing over paperwork.
Punishing Bridges for the “emotional toll,” Johnson said, is difficult to determine.
But Johnson said he believes the court sees the restitution of victims as the biggest priority.
“It’s hard for me to equate years in prison with the damage that was done,” Johnson said. “I think we’re all still shocked that Knox was able to be capable of what he did and that he did it to so many people.”
Contact reporter Nathan Hardin at 704-797-4246.