In a court document seeking leniency for their client, lawyers for Harriet Jinwright stressed her “limited role” in the federal tax evasion for which she and her husband, Bishop Anthony Jinwright, were convicted.
The document, recently made public by order of U.S. District Judge Frank Whitney, places much of the responsibility on Anthony Jinwright.
The document does not acknowledge tax evasion or any other crime; instead, it refers repeatedly to a “loss.”
The 15-page document, dated Nov. 30, points out that Harriet Jinwright, 51, was convicted on far fewer charges than was her 54-year-old husband.
“The jury’s verdicts show that Mrs. Jinwright’s role in the loss was minor compared to that of her husband,” the document states. “The evidence in this case supports Mrs. Jinwright’s contention that her role bore little relationship to the loss amount…”
The document initially was filed under seal as part of Harriet Jinwright’s pre-sentence report, but Whitney ruled earlier this month that it and other documents must be made part of the public record.
The Jinwrights, co-pastors of Greater Salem Church in west Charlotte, were convicted May 3 on multiple counts related to tax evasion. Whitney sentenced them both to prison on Dec. 9.
In the November motion, which seeks a downward departure from federal sentencing guidelines, Harriet Jinwright’s lawyer said Greater Salem “provided Anthony Jinwright with a large salary and benefits such as vacation, retirement, auto allowance, and housing allowance. Mrs. Jinwright, on the other hand, received a salary as a W-2 employee of GSC, and did not receive any additional benefits.
“Anthony Jinwright received significantly more money than Mrs. Jinwright for speaking engagements over the time period alleged in the indictment,” the document states. “Witnesses at trial testified that Mrs. Jinwright did not supervise others and did not run GSC and clearly testified that Anthony Jinwright was the person in control.”
Harriet Jinwright’s motion also noted her lack of criminal history and what her lawyers characterized as “severe bone degeneration” in both of her feet.
“Mrs. Jinwright suffers additional degeneration in her knees, which require regular cortisone shots until she able to have surgery on her knees and right foot,” the document states. “Mrs. Jinwright’s orthopedic problems have resulted in a disparity in length of her legs, which has begun to cause hip problems.”
The lawyers said Harriet Jinwright also has suffered from blood clots in her legs that required her to be hospitalized. The federal Bureau of Prisons, they said, is unlikely to approve surgery on their client because her orthopedic problems “presently are not life-threatening.”
“However, should Mrs. Jinwright suffer from more blood clots, she could lose her life,” the document states “A lengthy sentence with the costs associated with incarceration are not necessary to further punish Mrs. Jinwright or protect the public from any future crimes by Mrs. Jinwright.”
Both Jinwrights last week filed notices that they plan to appeal their convictions to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, one of the nation’s most conservative courts that rarely overturns criminal convictions.
On Harriet Jinwright’s notice, her financial status was approved as “pauper,” meaning she will be given a court-appointed attorney. Anthony Jinwright was denied pauper status.
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