February 23, 2024
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Central Coast developer hit with new federal charges

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A Central Coast developer already charged with bribing a Santa Barbara County supervisor has been hit with new charges alleging that he participated in a scheme to defraud investors in a Texas real estate project.

A federal grand jury returned the latest indictment against Ryan Wright, 37, also known as “Ryan Petetit,” of Grover Beach, on Dec. 20.

The new indictment combines the two cases.

The indictment identifies Wright as a former executive of a San Luis Obispo-based real estate development company. The firm is not identified.

The alleged fraud scheme involved a proposal to develop luxury homes in Dripping Springs, Texas, prosecutors say. 

Over the course of two years, from October 2021 through October 2023, Wright allegedly solicited funds for the development and diverted investors’ money to pay for defense attorneys retained in the bribery investigation and personal expenses such as a luxury condominium in Beverly Hills.

The indictment charges that Wright continued to solicit investor funds even after the real estate deal collapsed in August 2022. 

The total amount raised from investors was about $2 million, the indictment alleges.

Wright is also charged with fraudulently seeking over $24 million in financing for the development deal, again after it fell apart. 

The indictment further charges that Wright fraudulently obtained credit in 2023 by using a business associate’s credit rating to obtain credit cards.

In so doing, Wright fraudulently accessed about $450,000, some of which was spent on Las Vegas hotel rooms, sporting events and plastic surgery, the indictment alleges.

Wright was indicted in the bribery case on Oct. 4.

It alleges he paid the San Luis Obispo County supervisor more than $95,000 in bribes and gifts in exchange for the official advocating for the firm’s projects.

The supervisor is not identified in the indictment, but the late Supervisor Adam Hill had been the subject of an FBI investigation.

Hill, 54, committed suicide in August 2020.

Wright was arrested in late October and remains in custody.

He has pled not guilty to the charges in the bribery case.

No date has yet been scheduled for his arraignment on the new indictment.

But a May 14, 2024, trial date has been scheduled.

If convicted of all charges, Wright could be sentenced to decades in federal prison.

email: mharris@pacbiztimes.com