Shea Johnson, Daily Press
Weeks before he was arrested to face two federal charges, Mayor Pro Tem Jermaine Wright began, the FBI said, to contrive a strange plot: Hire someone to rough him up to the point where he loses his memory.
“So, how much is it going to cost to get my ass beat?” Wright, 41, reportedly told an FBI informant during a recorded Oct. 23 conversation. ”(A)nd it needs to happen quickly though. Beat to the point where I have memory loss, all the rest of the stuff, they have to let me go … I have a good-ass attorney.”
The unusual inquiry came six days after two FBI agents served a federal search warrant at Wright’s restaurant off Highway 395, Fat Boyz Grill, and confronted the policymaker over his alleged solicitation of an undercover agent to burn the place down so he could collect on the insurance money.
As the heat on Wright intensified since June, the mayor pro tem appeared to grow more desperate, purportedly telling an FBI agent he even had put a shotgun in his mouth. According to a sworn FBI affidavit, he believed a planned attack that would cause memory loss could shield him from pending criminal charges.
The assault would take place outside his restaurant in the pre-dawn hours; a rat would be placed next to him to make it seem as if the assailant had been angered he talked to the FBI; $500 or $600 would be put in his pocket as compensation to the paid attacker and to show signs of a robbery; and ”(t)hey gotta hit me in the head.”
“I am going to lose at least three months of memory or more,” Wright told the informant, according to the affidavit.
He’d tell authorities his assailant tried to steal an audio recording device on him, now broken, which agents provided to record conversations “in furtherance of FBI’s public corruption investigation in Adelanto,” the affidavit said.
He was also robbed of $2,000 to $3,000 cash out of his pocket, according to the affidavit. He always paid his employees in cash, he told an agent, and he routinely kept significant quantities of it around — apparently a habit he had learn from his mother.