ADELANTO (CBSLA) — An Adelanto councilman faces federal charges Wednesday of taking a $10,000 cash bribe and hiring someone to burn down his restaurant so he could collect on the insurance.
Jeremaine Wright, 41, is scheduled to make his first court appearance in U.S. District Court in Riverside after being arrested Tuesday by the FBI.
A criminal complaint filed Monday charged Wright, the mayor pro tem of Adelanto, with bribery and the attempted arson of a building.
The investigation into Wright stemmed from a probe into possible corruption in the City of Adelanto. An informant introduced Wright to undercover FBI agents in two separate schemes, according to an affidavit in support of the criminal complaint.
In the first scheme, Wright allegedly solicited and accepted a $10,000 bribe from an undercover agent who told the councilman he wanted his help expanding the area where marijuana cultivation was permitted in the city and to secure an “exemption” to operate a marijuana transportation business.
Over three meetings, Wright allegedly solicited $20,000, with half to be given as a “donation” to a third party “because he keeps us out of jail.” Wright ultimately received $10,000 in cash, according to the criminal complaint.
Separately, Wright asked for the informant’s help to set fire to his business, an Adelanto restaurant called Fat Boyz Grill, according to the criminal complaint. Federal authorities allege Wright paid a second undercover agent $1,500 to help him burn down the restaurant so he could collect $300,000 in insurance proceeds, and even went so far as to give the undercover agent a tour of the restaurant, providing a ladder, and discussing how to maximize the damage.
FBI agents executed a federal search warrant at the restaurant on Oct. 17, at which time Wright confessed to paying the undercover agent to burn down Fat Boyz Grill, according to authorities.
After confessing to the arson plot, authorities say Wright agreed cooperate with the FBI’s investigation into corruption in Adelanto. But the next day, Wright called the informant and called the agent, who had been posing as an electrician, a “snitch,” according to the affidavit. Wright then asked the informant to attack him, so he could get his criminal charges dismissed “due to memory loss Wright would claim he suffered as a result of the assault,” the affidavit alleged.
“I am going to lose at least three months of memory or more,” Wright said, according to the affidavit.
Last Friday morning, Wright was found on the ground in the parking lot of Fat Boyz Grill. Even though he had no visible injuries, Wright was taken to a hospital. He reported he had been attacked and robbed an unknown assailant, authorities said.