ADELANTO – Adelanto City Councilmember Jermaine Wright Sr. faces up to 30 years in Federal Prison after a bribery and arson arrest earlier this week. The council member was arrested on Federal Charges for bribery, using his position in the city for personal monetary gain and a plot to burn down his Adelanto business, Fat Boyz Grill in order to collect on the insurance policy.
Wright was arrested on Monday after accepting a $10,000 cash bribe from an undercover FBI agent. The FBI agent, according to the Department of Justice release, told Wright that he needed his assistance in navigating the city re-zoning and code enforcement issues for a marijuana-related business. The investigation began following the information provided by an informant, referred to as Confidential Human Source (CHS) who introduced Wright to two undercover FBI agents. Conversations were recorded by the CHS which contained conversations where Wright discussed both of the plots.
The informant (CHS), then introduced Wright to a man who expressed the interest to move his marijuana cultivation business to Adelanto, outside of the designated marijuana cultivation zone. The undercover operative, referred to as UC-1 requested that Wright facilitated the expansion of the area, making the cultivation permitted. Wright and UC-1 met in June 2017, when Wright said, “to obtain the necessary votes from the Adelanto City Council for the expansion of the area zoned for marijuana cultivation, UC-1 would have to purchase Wright’s vote,” the affidavit said. After Wright said that his “price” was “20” – interpreted by the undercover agent to be $20,000 – Wright said a “donation” had to be made to a third party “because he keeps us out of jail.” The expansion was approved in July, with Wright voting in favor of the expansion. The undercover agent then approached Wright to assist him in fast-tracking the approval of the marijuana business. Wright agreed to, for “15” the Department of Justice officials said.
Neither of the bribes came to fruition, and Wright was not paid the $20,000 or the $15,000 for helping to speed up the process.
“The informant later told the FBI that Wright was willing to take money in exchange for his help in securing an “exemption” that would allow the undercover operative to operate a marijuana transportation business”, DOJ officials said. “During a meeting on October 6, UC-1 then placed $10,000 dollars on a box being used as a table, made up of two stacks of $50 bills, and told Wright, ‘that’s for you, or your non-profit, whatever,’” according to the affidavit. “Wright responded, ‘my non-profit, yes sir, thank you, sir.’ Wright eventually placed the $10,000 in his pocket.” The $10,000 bribe was not that end, Wright told UC-1 that he would assist with code enforcement and votes, and would curtail code enforcement action against the marijuana transportation business for a stack, which Wright identified as $2000, each time he would intercede.
Wright who himself is a business owner, who once owned a party bus business, and more recently his newest venture Fat Boyz Grill, which Wright allegedly paid someone $1500 to burn the place down. Unbeknownst to Wright, the person paid was an undercover FBI agent.
In early August the informant reported to the FBI that Wright asked the informant for help to find someone to set a fire at his business in an attempt to collect the $300,000 insurance policy. Wright again asked for help finding someone to burn down the restaurant in late August. In late September, Wright asked the informant to give the “electrician”, referring to the person who would be hired to start the fire that he planned to make appear to be caused by an electrical problem. He met with the “electrician”, another undercover FBI agent on October 3rd, requesting that the fire occurred on the following Saturday. He gave him a tour of the restaurant, tips to maximize the damage, and $1500. The undercover agent told Wright that he would need additional time to prepare for the job.
On October 17, a federal search was done at the restaurant in addition to an interview with Wright. Wright quickly confessed to the arson plot, and to paying someone to burn it down. FBI agents told Wright that the “electrician” (the arsonist) was relaying information to agents about the scheme. Wright agreed to cooperate with the FBI’s investigation into corruption in the City of Adelanto, As part of the agreement, Wright agreed to se a recording device if requested by the FBI, tell the truth and maintain the confidentiality of the investigation. The following day, Wright called the informant to tell him/her about the FBI search warrant and he called the so-called electrician a “snitch” that Wright requested that the informant made to go away.
Still apparently trusting the informant, Wright contacted him to attack Wright so that he can report memory loss. Wright requested this hoping that the memory loss would require the dismissal of criminal charges.
Wright instructed the informant to “put a rat next to me,” explaining that the FBI “would suspect someone has found out that I have talked to them [the FBI], and they’re sending me a message.” According to the affidavit, Wright continued, “I am going to lose at least three months of memory or more.”
Early Friday morning, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department received a call from a Fat Boyz Grill employee, requesting medical aid.The found Wright on the ground in the parking lot and began treating him for unknown injuries. Wright was transported to the hospital. Wright reported that his injuries were a result of an attack and robbery by an unknown assailant. He was taken into custody by FBI agents following an additional interview.
The 41-year-old councilmember who is well-known by residents in the City of Adelanto for his outspoken ways, many times speaking about controversial topics. Wrights hearings will take place at the United States District Court in Riverside. Wright now faces up to 30 years in Federal Prison, with the maximum sentence of 10 years for bribery and up to 20 years for the arson charge with the minimum arson sentence being five years in prison.
If convicted, he may find his temporary home less than 3 miles from the Adelanto City Hall at the Federal Correctional Institution in Victorville.
The case against Wright is the product of an ongoing investigation being conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and IRS Criminal Investigation.
This article was written by a staff member of the 24/7 Headline News Organization
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