Previous Adelanto mayor charged in marijuana bribery plan

The former mayor of Adelanto, who led an bold push to flip the higher desert into a heart for cannabis small business, was arrested Friday and billed with accepting bribes and kickbacks from cannabis operators.

Prosperous Kerr, 64, was taken into federal custody devoid of incident Friday early morning as prosecutors unsealed an indictment that consists of seven counts of honest expert services wire fraud and two counts of bribery.

Kerr is accused of accepting far more than $57,000 in illicit payments from organization men and women in exchange for his enable earning guaranteed they been given the permits and licenses essential to run various cannabis functions in the town. The income, prosecutors alleged, was disguised by Kerr and his co-schemers as items, donations to a charitable fund or Kerr’s election marketing campaign, and other ruses.

Kerr, who served as Adelanto’s mayor from 2014 to 2018, came less than suspicion of authorities although still in workplace. In 2018, federal agents served research warrants on Kerr’s residence, City Hall and a area cannabis dispensary. Kerr is the second elected formal from Adelanto to be accused of accepting bribes for rapid-tracking marijuana enterprises. In 2017, then-Mayor Pro Tem Jermaine Wright was charged with a very similar scheme.

As mayor, Kerr was a powerful proponent of opening the metropolis to authorized cannabis operations. He voted to enable cannabis cultivation in the city, medical marijuana dispensaries to function, and an array of other professional cannabis activities, in accordance to the indictment. His support, prosecutors allege, stemmed at least in part from his need to enrich himself.

According to an indictment issued by a grand jury this 7 days, Kerr exploited his role as mayor to vote to approve town ordinances that served the folks shelling out him and served on Adelanto’s Cannabis Dispensary Permit Committee, which identified the number of permits that would be issued and which candidates would receive them.

Prosecutors did not title the individuals who had been allegedly bribing and scheming with Kerr. A single of them is a lawyer who was determined in the indictment as “Person A.” Two others, “Person C and “Person D,” had stakes in companies in the town, including these involving cannabis cultivation, prosecutors reported.

At a assembly in November 2016, the Adelanto Metropolis Council mentioned a proposed ordinance that would help ascertain in which health care cannabis dispensaries would be located. The original proposal identified as for two zones would have excluded a previous restaurant purchased two months earlier by Human being A and his husband or wife.

All through the council’s dialogue, Kerr successfully pushed to modify the boundaries to contain the previous restaurant. The ideas Person A and his wife submitted to the metropolis identified as for the developing to be renovated with “elongated gross sales counters,” a “dispensing home,” “cashier,” and “security room,” the indictment alleges. It was unclear from the indictment whether or not it at any time opened as a dispensary.

The adhering to thirty day period, Kerr deposited a $5,000 verify dated with the exact day as the council assembly from a true estate belief account controlled by Human being A, in accordance to the indictment. The check’s memo line read, “ADV XMAS FUND.”

The subsequent Might, Kerr voted two times on metropolis marijuana procedures to support Person A, the indictment alleges, and been given a few $10,000 checks from Human being A’s law agency that calendar year. The memo strains of every verify mentioned, “ADVANCE.”

In whole, Kerr recognized at least $57,500 in bribes and kickbacks from Person A, Man or woman C and other individuals, prosecutors allege.