Bridges to remain in jail until sentencing

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 31, 2013

CHARLOTTE — Escorted by two federal agents, John Knox Bridges made it to court Wednesday.
The 52-year-old admitted con man who bilked millions out of co-workers and longtime friends will remain in jail until his sentencing date, federal Chief Judge Robert Conrad Jr. decided shortly after prosecutors gave accounts of Bridges’ disappearance Friday. A sentencing hearing had not been set for last Wednesday.
Bridges was expected to be sentenced Friday at a federal court hearing in Charlotte last week, he but never showed. Authorities found him Saturday in the women’s restroom of the Salisbury ARP Church on Maupin Avenue, where he attended. Prosecutors said Bridges was holding a shotgun and had an apparent suicide note.
U.S. Attorney Maria Vento told the court Bridges left his South Ellis Street home at 1 p.m. on Friday. His mother, Jeanie Bridges, told authorities Bridges called back about 2 p.m. and apologized “for all the trouble he had caused.”
Police called Jeanie Bridges in Saturday when a bystander contacted officers about the suspicious Volvo parked at the church. Police had issued a lookout for the station wagon the previous evening.
Jeanie Bridges and officers talked the 52-year-old into surrendering.
Judge Conrad called Bridges’ run a “clear violation” of a court order.
He has asked the U.S. Attorney’s Office to investigate the incident. Bridges could be charged with criminal contempt.
Conrad also scolded defense attorney Rahwa Gebre-Egziabher, saying she was “hiding behind attorney-client privilege” when the attorney refused to explain Bridges’ whereabouts to the court Friday.
“I think it exacerbated a dangerous situation that ultimately law enforcement had to encounter the next day,” the judge said.
Conrad also said he felt the attorney waived the attorney-client privilege when she discussed Bridges’ whereabouts with others in the courtroom.
Bridges pleaded guilty last February to stealing at least $2.3 million, using a variety of schemes to defraud friends and others.
Bridges, of South Ellis Street, also admitted to taking $600,000 from the North Carolina Transportation Museum Foundation while serving as a member of the board.
Court officials said a sentencing date would be set at the convenience of victims attending the hearing.
Contact reporter Nathan Hardin at 704-797-4246.