Former Adelanto, California Mayor Richard Kerr was indicted and arrested last week on allegations that “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,” according to a CA Department of Justice press release.
Kerr 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.
“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,” the Department of Justice said. “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.”
In his time as mayor, the CA DOJ says that 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.” This is an eerily similar situation (though perhaps somewhat flipped) to what’s going on with the Trulieve CEO’s husband, J.T. Burnette, and his trial for bribing a former Florida state representative.
According to High Times, Kerr’s alleged co-conspirators are described as “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.” As California cultivators strive for true equity and reform in the cannabis industry, these situations are disheartening, to say the least.