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Press Release

Central Coast Man Previously Charged in Bribery Scheme Faces New Federal Charges of Defrauding Investors in Real Estate Deal

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Central District of California

LOS ANGELES – An executive at a San Luis Obispo-based real estate development company who was previously charged with paying a county supervisor nearly $100,000 in bribes has been named in a superseding indictment that alleges a scheme to defraud investors in a Texas real estate project, the Justice Department announced today.

Ryan Wright, 37, a.k.a. “Ryan Petetit,” of Grover Beach, was named in a superseding indictment returned by a federal grand jury Wednesday afternoon. The new indictment adds 14 counts of wire fraud, three counts of attempted bank fraud and one count of access device fraud. The initial three-count indictment in this case, which was filed in October 30, alleged that Wright paid bribes and engaged in a cover-up.

There is a May 14, 2024 trial date scheduled in this case.

The fraud scheme alleged in the superseding indictment relates to a proposal to develop luxury homes in Dripping Springs, Texas. Over the course of two years – from October 2021 through October 2023, when Wright knew he was under investigation in the alleged corruption scheme – Wright allegedly solicited funds for the real estate development and diverted investors’ money to pay for criminal defense attorneys retained in connection with the bribery investigation, as well as for personal expenses, including a luxury condominium in Beverly Hills.

The indictment alleges that Wright continued to solicit investor funds even after the real estate deal collapsed in August 2022. The total amount raise from investors was approximately $2 million.

Wright is also charged with fraudulently seeking over $24 million in financing for the real estate deal after the project fell apart, which included causing an account to be opened in the company’s name and temporarily inflating it with funds not intended for the project in order to deceive the lender into believing the company had sufficient cash to close on the loan.

The indictment goes on to alleges that Wright fraudulently obtained credit in 2023 by using a business associate’s credit rating to obtain access devices (credit cards). Wright fraudulently accessed approximately $450,000, some of which was spend on “Las Vegas hotel rooms, sporting events, plastic surgery, and payments to criminal defense attorneys retained in connection with the government’s federal corruption investigation,” the indictment states.

The corruption and obstruction-related charges in the initial indictment remain in the superseding indictment. Those charges relate to allegations that Wright and his company paid money and gifts totaling more than $95,000 to a San Luis Obispo County supervisor who advocated for Wright’s real estate development company’s projects and prospective projects with City of San Luis Obispo officials, and who also voted for Wright’s company’s projects while on the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors. The indictment further alleges that Wright took efforts to obstruct the federal investigation into these bribery allegations, including causing his company to produce a falsified business record in response to a federal grand jury subpoena.     

Wright is currently in custody after being ordered detained after his arrest in late October. No date has been scheduled yet for his arraignment on the superseding indictment.

An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty in court.

The corruption conspiracy count carries a statutory maximum sentence of five years in federal prison, the obstruction of justice count has a maximum sentence of 10 years, the falsification of records count carries up to 20 years, the wire fraud counts have a maximum statutory sentence of 20 years, the attempted bank fraud charges carry a maximum sentence of 30 years, and the maximum sentence for the access device fraud charges is 10 years.

The FBI and IRS Criminal Investigation are investigating this matter.

Assistant United States Attorneys Daniel J. O’Brien and Thomas F. Rybarczyk of the Public Corruption and Civil Rights Section are prosecuting this case.


Ciaran McEvoy
Public Information Officer
(213) 894-4465

Updated December 21, 2023

Public Corruption
Press Release Number: 23-290