Federal Bureau of Investigation
Former Mayor of Adelanto Arrested on Wire Fraud and Bribery Charges Alleging Illicit Payments for Support of Commercial Marijuana Activity
Press Release Friday, August 13, 2021RIVERSIDE, California – The former mayor of Adelanto was arrested today by special agents of the FBI on a federal grand jury indictment alleging he accepted more than $57,000 in bribes and kickbacks in exchange for approving ordinances authorizing various types of commercial marijuana activity within the city, and ensuring his co-schemers obtained city licenses or permits authorizing certain commercial marijuana activities.
Richard Allen Kerr, 64, of Adelanto, was taken into federal custody without incident this morning. He is charged with seven counts of honest services wire fraud and two counts of bribery.
Kerr, who served as Adelanto’s mayor from 2014 to 2018, is expected to make his initial appearance this afternoon in United States District Court in Riverside.
According to the indictment returned on August 11, as part of his official duties, Kerr voted on ordinances governing zoning regulations in the city and served on Adelanto’s Cannabis Dispensary Permit Committee, which determined the number of dispensary permits that would be issued and which applicants would receive them.
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. At the same time, Kerr secretly used his official position to enrich himself and his co-schemers bypassing these same ordinances, according to the indictment.
Kerr allegedly also drafted zones for commercial marijuana activities to include locations used by his co-schemers, and he ensured they obtained the licenses and permits they sought – in exchange for bribes, kickbacks, and gifts.
Kerr’s alleged co-schemers were a lawyer who specialized in plaintiffs’ tort litigation – identified in the indictment as “Person A” – and two individuals – labeled “Person C and “Person D” – who had business interests in the city, including those involving marijuana cultivation.
The bribes and kickbacks were disguised by Kerr and his co-schemers as gifts, donations to a charitable fund, donations to Kerr’s election campaign, or advance payments for the proceeds of planned litigation associated with a motorcycle accident.
In exchange for the bribes and kickbacks, Kerr provided favorable official action on behalf of the city to Person A, Person C, and other co-schemers with business interests in the city by authorizing various types of commercial marijuana activities, ensuring his supporters obtained the licenses or permits they sought and interfering with enforcement activities by city officials.
For example, on November 29, 2016, the Adelanto City Council held a public discussion related to an ordinance, including a discussion of “overlay zones” within which medical marijuana dispensaries would be located. The initial proposal included two zones, neither of which included a former restaurant – purchased two months earlier by Person A and his spouse.
During the discussion, Kerr requested a change in the boundaries of the second overlay zone, which expanded the zone to include Person A’s business. The plans for the business initially called for the building to be an attorney’s office, although they included items such as “elongated sales counters,” a “dispensing room,” “cashier,” and “security room,” the indictment alleges.
On December 5, 2016, Kerr deposited a $5,000 check – dated November 29, 2016 – from Person A’s real estate trust account into his bank account, and the check’s memorandum line read, “ADV XMAS FUND.”
In May 2017, Kerr voted twice in favor of a city ordinance that included Person A’s business in the marijuana dispensary overlay zone. In February, June, and August of 2017, Kerr deposited three $10,000 checks from Person A’s law firm, with the memorandum lines of each check stating, “ADVANCE.”
In total, Kerr accepted at least $57,500 in bribes and kickbacks from Person A, Person C, and other co-schemers.
An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
If convicted of all charges, Kerr would face a statutory maximum sentence of 160 years in federal prison.
The FBI investigated this matter.
Assistant United States Attorney Sean D. Peterson of the Riverside Branch Office is prosecuting this case
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – An Illinois man was sentenced today to 10 months in federal prison for sending a threatening message through social media to a West Virginia law enforcement officer.
According to court documents and statements made in court, Rodney Hanson, 37, sent a threatening Facebook message on January 8, 2019, to a law enforcement officer in Putnam County after a police involved shooting. Hanson pleaded guilty in May 2021 to transmitting an interstate threatening communication.
Acting United States Attorney Lisa G. Johnston made the announcement and commended the investigative efforts of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
United States District Judge Robert C. Chambers imposed the sentenced. Assistant United States Attorney Ryan A. Keefe handled the prosecution.
A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of West Virginia. Related court documents and information can be found on PACER by searching for Case No. 3:20-cr-00169.
Source : FBI
WILKES-BARRE- The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced today that Brian Buglio, age 46, of Lattimer Mines, Pennsylvania, was sentenced by United States Magistrate Judge Joseph F. Saporito, Jr., to two months of imprisonment and a one-year term of supervised release that includes four months of home confinement.
According to Acting United States Bruce D. Brandler, Buglio, the former Chief of Police for the West Hazleton Police Department, pleaded guilty to a deprivation of civil rights, after he threatened a private citizen with felony criminal charges, in retaliation for social media posts created by the private citizen that were critical of Buglio and of the West Hazleton Police Department.
In pronouncing the sentence, Judge Saporito deemed Buglio’s actions an “abuse of power” when he threatened to use the criminal justice system to further his own personal interests. In addition to the term of imprisonment and supervised release, Judge Saporito also ordered Buglio to pay a $5,000 fine.
The case was investigated by the Scranton Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Public Corruption Task Force, which consists of members of the Pennsylvania State Police and the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office, and federal agents from the FBI and Internal Revenue Service. Assistant U.S. Attorney Phillip J. Caraballo prosecuted the case.
Source : FBI
PITTSBURGH, PA – Bobby Askew was sentenced to 27 months in prison for distributing fentanyl, heroin, and cocaine, including within 1,000 feet of a school in Butler, Pennsylvania, Acting United States Attorney Stephen R. Kaufman announced today.
Askew, age 39, formerlyof Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was sentenced by United States District Judge Robert J. Colville. Judge Colville ordered that Askew serve six years of supervised release following his prison term.
In 2009, Askew was convicted of crack cocaine trafficking in Philadelphia. He was sentenced to 5 to 10 years in state prison. After being paroled from state prison, he relocated to Butler in Butler County and trafficked fentanyl, heroin, and cocaine as part of a Butler-based drug trafficking crew. Askew dealt these drugs on a regular basis between 2017 and 2020, including within 1,000 feet of multiple schools in Butler.
Assistant United States Attorneys Yvonne M. Saadi and Craig W. Haller prosecuted this case on behalf of the United States.
The Pennsylvania State Police, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Butler County District Attorney’s Drug Task Force led the investigation leading to the conviction and sentence in this case.