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Former Adelanta Mayor Pro Tem found guilty of accepting a $ 10,000 cash bribe and attempting to set fire to his own restaurant – VVNG.com

RIVERSIDE, California (VVNG.com) Jermaine WrightA jury has found former Adelanta mayor guilty of federal criminal charges for accepting a $ 10,000 cash bribe and hiring a man to set fire to his restaurant so he could fraudulently raise hundreds of thousands of dollars in insurance revenue, the Justice Department said today.

Wright, 46, of Riverside, was found guilty late Wednesday afternoon of one count of bribery of programs that received federal funds and one count of attempting to set fire to a building affecting interstate trade. Wright was placed in federal custody after the verdict was announced.

U.S. District Judge Jesus G. Bernal has scheduled a sentencing hearing for Sept. 12, when Wright will face a mandatory five-year minimum federal prison for attempted arson and a statutory 30-year federal prison sentence for both crimes.

According to the evidence presented at his six-day trial, in early 2017, federal investigators began an investigation into possible corruption in Adelant, a city located in the San Bernardino district. During the investigation, police used an informant who introduced Wright to two FBI undercover agents and recorded a series of conversations in which Wright discussed both conspiracies.

In the first scheme, Wright – then Adelanta City Councilor and then Mayor – accepted a $ 10,000 bribe from an undercover FBI agent who told Wright he wanted his help securing votes to expand the marijuana business zone and protect against enforcement. laws related to the alleged business of transporting marijuana.

The man who allegedly wanted to move his marijuana business to Adelanto was an FBI undercover agent who told Wright he was interested in using the property outside the zone the city designated for marijuana business. The agent specifically wanted Wright to help expand the area where the marijuana transportation business would be allowed.

Eventually, the informant told Wright that the undercover agent would rent the property from an informant located outside the approved marijuana business zone. Wright told the informant that the undercover agent would need an “exemption” that would allow the undercover operative to run the marijuana transportation business, and that if the undercover agent wanted an exemption, then Wright wanted his “ten”.

At a meeting with an undercover agent and informant, held in October 2017, Wright took a $ 10,000 bribe from an undercover agent. After receiving the bribe, Wright confirmed he would help enforce the law and vote. Wright also said he could limit anti-marijuana code enforcement activities, but that this would require a “harmony” – which Wright identified as $ 2,000 – each time Wright intervened.

In another scheme, in August 2017, Wright sought the help of an informant to find someone to set fire to Fat Boyz Grill, his restaurant in Adelant. In late September, Wright asked an informant to pass on his cell phone number to an “electrician” – so named because Wright wanted the cause of the fire to appear to be an electricity problem.

Wright met the “electrician” – actually another undercover FBI agent – on October 3, 2017, and said he wanted a fire next Saturday when the sprinkler system would be shut down. After Wright convinced the undercover agent that his insurance policy covered everything, the “electrician” agreed to get the job done for $ 1,500. At a meeting three days later, Wright paid $ 1,500 after an undercover agent told Wright he needed more time to prepare for the job.

Wright also gave the agent a tour of the restaurant and helped plan the arson by providing a ladder for the undercover agent and discussing various tactics to ensure the planned arson was successful.

In October 2017, the FBI executed a search warrant at Fat Boyz Grill and interviewed Wright, who admitted to hiring an undercover agent to set the restaurant on fire. The next day, the informant reported to the FBI that Wright had told the informant that the FBI had approached Wright and that Wright had asked the informant for help in forcing the undercover agent to “leave.”

Wright also tried to conspire with an informant to stage an attack on Wright himself to force the FBI to drop the case against him. In November 2017, Wright reported being attacked. The circumstances of the alleged attack were consistent with the staged attack that Wright discussed with the informant.

The FBI investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Sean D. Peterson of the Riverside branch is prosecuting the case.

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Related article: Adelanta Mayor Pro Tem arrested on federal charges including bribery and arson

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Former Adelanta Mayor Pro Tem found guilty of accepting a $ 10,000 cash bribe and attempting to set fire to his own restaurant – VVNG.com

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