A former high-ranking political figure in the city of Adelanto has been sentenced to five years in prison for taking a bribe and hiring a man to burn down his business.

Jermaine Wright, 46, of Riverside, was sentenced in Federal Court on Monday after a six-day trial in June led to his conviction on one count of bribery and one count of attempted arson.

Wright served as mayor pro tem in Adelanto at the time the crimes were committed. The position is often treated as the second-highest ranking figurehead on the city council behind the elected mayor.

Federal investigators say Wright became the subject of an investigation in early 2017 during a citywide corruption probe.

Investigators used an informant who introduced Wright to two undercover FBI agents. In a series of recorded conversations, Wright admitted to accepting a $10,000 bribe as well as admitting to hiring a man to burn down his restaurant so that he could claim the insurance payout.

According to the United States Department of Justice, when Wright was serving on the city council and as mayor pro tem, he accepted the bribe from a person who was hoping to secure votes to expand the city’s marijuana business zone. The person also asked for protection from code enforcement officials related to a possible marijuana transportation business.

In reality, the person looking to buy favor with the council was an undercover FBI agent.

Prosecutors said the bribe was not a “one-off event,” writing in their sentencing memorandum that he had spoke with the undercover agent several times and attempted to negotiate larger payouts for different services and even said he expected a “stack,” or $2,000, each time he interfered with code enforcement.

The DOJ said Wright also asked the same informant for help finding someone to burn down his restaurant, Fat Boyz Grill, in Adelanto.

Wright apparently wanted the fire to appear to be caused by an electrical issue, so he met with a person he referred to as an “electrician” to discuss the plan. He hoped that the “electrician” could ensure that the job could be done and agreed to pay them $1,500 for their service. Wright also apparently promised to make sure the business’ sprinkler system would be turned off when the fire broke out.

Again, the person he was in contact with was an undercover FBI agent.

Wright gave the agent a tour of the restaurant and assisted in the planning of the arson, even going so far as to provide the agent with a ladder and discussing different tactics to make sure the business would be successfully destroyed.

In October 2017, the FBI served a warrant at the restaurant and interviewed Wright who confessed to hiring the undercover agent. After the warrant was served, Wright apparently staged an assault on himself in an attempt to get the FBI to drop its investigation into him, according to the DOJ.

On Monday, United States District Judge Jesus G. Bernal informed Wright of his sentence.

Wright is the second Adelanto elected official to be charged for alleged bribery schemes. In August 2021, former mayor, Rich Kerr was arrested and charged for wire fraud and bribery. He’s accused of accepting more than $57,000 in bribes and kickbacks during his time as mayor from 2014 to 2018, according to the DOJ.

Both cases were investigated by the FBI.