Randall Wright to Stand Trial on Perjury Charges

April 2, 2009 8:10:01 PM PDT
The list of criminal charges is growing against a Merced man whose wife is missing. But they're not connected to her disappearance.A judge ruled there is enough evidence to send Randal Wright to trial for filing a false stolen vehicle report. And now he's facing a new charge after deputies say he stole a different car himself.

Randal Wright appeared briefly in an old Merced County courtroom before his preliminary hearing was moved to the main courthouse. The 58 year old showed little emotion as attorneys argued whether there's enough evidence to send him to trial on perjury charges.

Prosecutors say Wright filed a false stolen vehicle report for an SUV that was being kept in storage. But Defense Attorney Tom Pfeiff says Wright wasn't aware of the car's location. "The police report itself contradicts itself, and Mr. Wright has always maintained he doesn't know exactly when the car disappeared, it was gone and so he went and reported it," said Pfeiff.

Merced County Sheriff's Deputies say they discovered the false report while investigating the disappearance of Wright's wife, Karen. The 50 year old was last seen at one of the couple's Mexican vacation homes in early February ... just months after she filed for divorce. In court documents Karen claims her husband had threatened to kill her several times. Authorities have not accused Randal Wright in her disappearance, but prosecutors have said he could potentially be named a suspect, and Karen's sister fears he may have been involved. "I just have a deep feeling he had something to do with the disappearance of my sister," said Marsha Stewart.

Detectives have recently served several search warrants as part of Karen's case. They are also actively investigating the disappearance of two men who went missing in 1993 while working for Wright's company, RTS Towing. And now they say those investigations have revealed that Randal Wright committed a second crime. They claim he surrendered his 105 thousand dollar Mercedes Benz at a dealership in Fresno and then stole it back from the property last December.

"Right now we're still looking for it, it's outstanding, that's all I can say," said Deputy Tom MacKenzie.

Wright pleaded not guilty to the stolen vehicle charge on Thursday. Meanwhile, the judge ruled there is enough evidence to move forward on the perjury charge.

Randal Wright will be back in court later this month to face both charges. His bail is now set at 390 thousand dollars because the judge believes Wright could be a flight risk.

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