ADELANTO, CA – The Former Mayor of Adelanto was arrested on multiple federal charges early Friday morning.
The United States Department of Justice announced that Former Mayor Richard Kerr, 64, was arrested for Wire Fraud and Bribery charges. Kerr, who was the mayor of Adelanto from 2014 to 2018, allegedly accepted illicit payments for the support of commercial marijuana activity, according to the DOJ news release. The indictment alleges that Kerr accepted approximately $57,500 in bribes and kickbacks in exchange for approving ordinances authorizing commercial marijuana activity within the city. In total, Kerr is charged with seven counts of honest services wire fraud and two counts of bribery.
The indictment said that Kerr, who acted as part of Adelanto’s Cannabis Dispensary Permit Committee, voted on ordinances governing zoning regulations in the city. As part of the Cannabis Dispensary Permit Committee, Kerr helped to decide who would receive the dispensary permits and how many permits would be issued. “As mayor, Kerr supported marijuana legalization, voted in favor of an ordinance authorizing marijuana cultivation in the city, voted in favor of an ordinance authorizing the operation of medical marijuana dispensaries, and voted to authorize the distribution, transportation and testing of medical marijuana, among other commercial marijuana activities,” Department of Justice officials said, “At the same time, Kerr secretly used his official position to enrich himself and his co-schemers by passing these same ordinances, according to the indictment.”
The bribes were allegedly provided to Kerr and others involved, in order to receive the permits and licenses needed for their marijuana-related businesses. These bribes were disguised as gifts, donations to a charitable fund, donation to Kerr’s election campaign or advanced payments for the proceeds of litigation for a motorcycle accident. The Department of Justice said via written statement that Kerr in November 2016 requested changes in the boundaries to include a business initially requested to be an attorney’s office. Prior to the change, the office included an elongated sales counter, a dispensing room, a cashier and a security room. Kerr received a $5000 check from the person who owned the business, which was dated on the same day. The check read, “ADV XMAS FUND”.
Again in May 2017, Kerr voted in favor of the city ordinance to include the business in the marijuana dispensary overlay zone. On three separate occasions, Kerr deposited three $10,000 checks from the business owner’s law firm, all saying “advance”.
Kerr is expected to appear at the United States District Court in Riverside today. If convicted as charged he can face up to 160 years in Federal Prison.
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