SLO County supervisor solicited bribes, developer arrested

October 30, 2023

Adam Hill speaking at a groundbreaking ceremony for a PB Companies project.


Federal agents arrested a San Luis Obispo developer Monday for allegedly paying nearly $100,000 in bribes and gifts to a SLO County supervisor who advocated for his company’s projects. The developer then allegedly covered up the scheme by forging documents.

Ryan Wright, 37, formerly known as “Ryan Petetit,” was arrested on a three-count indictment charging him with conspiracy, falsification of records and obstruction of justice. Along with his former partner John Belsher, 67, Wright is a defendant in a civil trial over allegations they defrauded an investor out of more than $2 million.

Wright and Belsher were principals in PB Companies, a real estate investment and development firm that was involved in more than a dozen proposed projects throughout San Luis Obispo County — several of which SLO County Supervisor Adam Hill actively promoted.

Hill worked with multiple public employees and officials on behalf of Wright and Belsher, including both former SLO City Manager Katie Lichtig and members of multiple city commissions, according to the indictment.

John Belsher, former SLO mayor Jan Marx, Adam Hill and Jody Belsher

Highlights of federal investigators’ list of overt acts:

Wright and Hill agreed that they needed to place a gag order on all conversations between “the three of us,” according to a June 24, 2014 text message between Hill and Wright in which they discussed creating a separate entity to pay Hill for his PB Companies’ work.

During this text exchange, Wright told Hill that Belsher “wants to protect all three of us.” Wright then warned Hill that “loose lips sink ships.”

In a text message exchange on July 14, 2014, Wright told Hill that PB Companies would pay Hill $5,000 up front and $1,700 a month thereafter, and would provide him with a leased car from a Volvo dealership.

Also in a July 14, 2014 text message, Hill told Wright that he had already spoken to one SLO Architectural Review Commission member. During the same conversation, Hill told Wright that he was “going to golden ticket you to all the people and places you need to be with/at.”

In a July 16, 2014 text message exchange, Hill told Wright he had met with SLO City Manager Katie Lichtig to discuss the Marsh Street project (which would later become part of the larger San Luis Square Project). “It can happen,” Hill texted.

On July 19, 2014, Hill leased a four-door Volvo Wagon valued at $43,020, paid for by Wright.

On July 21, 2014, Hill spoke at a SLO Architectural Review Commission (ARC) meeting promoting a PB Company project. Hill then forwarded an email to Wright from a board member saying, “Nice to see you in the room tonight. . . that project has great promise.”

“Just so you see the value of my help….(Don’t pass on),” Hill wrote in the forwarded email.

On Sept. 25, 2014, Hill wrote Wright in an email that his attorney had reviewed the proposed operating agreement and suggested certain restrictions, including that Hill would “disqualify himself from voting on any matters before him that do or could pertain to PB Companies,” and that Hill “shall not appear on behalf of PB Companies before any commissions or boards in SLO County or any of its cities.”

Belsher responded to the email saying he disagreed with Hill’s attorney.

In an Oct. 14, 2014, text message exchange, Wright said Hill could make $250,000 per year and have “on going income for ever.” Hill texted, “I think Belsher is starting to understand my value.”

During a Dec. 16, 2014, SLO County Supervisor meeting, Hill voted to approve a tentative map for PB Companies’ Toad Creek project in Templeton.

In a July 11, 2015 text message exchange, Hill told Wright that SLO staff, some ARC commissioners and his SLO City Council “friends” suggested that Hill not attend the upcoming July 13, 2015 joint ARC and CHC meeting discussing the San Luis Square project, and instead “work behind the scenes.”

In a July 13, 2015 text message exchange, Wright asked Hill if he “drugged these ppl.” Hill later bragged “that joint commission listened to every word I spoke . . . . and nodded.” Ryan texted, “you are a huge fucking help.” Hill replied, “nobody wants to fuck with their county supervisor when it’s me.”

John Belsher and Ryan Petetit-Wright

CalCoastNews discovers wrongdoing

In 2015, a CalCoastNew investigation discovered Hill worked as a paid consultant for PB Companies while openly promoting the company’s projects.

Hill identified himself on a Statement of Information filed with the state of California in 2015 as the “managing member” of San Luis Consulting, one of 33 limited liability corporations tied to PB Companies. Hill reported that he was paid $10,001 to $100,000 in 2014 for what he described as “writing, editing, and coaching.”

Through public records, CalCoastNews discovered that Hill’s disclosure form contradicted some of San Luis Consulting’s state filings. In addition, Hill had not disclosed his connection to PB Companies to the public nor through his Fair Political Practices Commission filings.

CalCoastNews wrote a series of stories outlining alleged misdeeds by Belsher, Wright and Hill. Following multiple CalCoastNews articles in 2015 and 2016, the Tribune would rebut with articles touting PB Companies’ projects.

Grand Jury indicts Wright

Wright was scheduled to be arraigned Monday afternoon in U.S. District Court in downtown Los Angeles.

According to the indictment, from at least June 2014 through May 2017, Wright conspired with Belsher, “identified in court documents as “Co-Conspirator 1,” to bribe an elected official identified as “County Supervisor 1,” with financial benefits, including money and gifts totaling more than $95,000.”

In exchange, Hill advocated for PB Companies’ projects and prospective projects with City of San Luis Obispo officials, and voted for PB Companies’ projects on the SLO County Board of Supervisors.

Wright, Belsher and Hill allegedly covered up the bribes by using Hill’s consulting company to funnel and conceal bribe payments, according to prosecutors. Hill then provided false information on his 2015 and 2016 annual state conflict of interest disclosure forms requiring him to report income he had received.

Wright flew Hill on a jet to watch a Major League Baseball playoff game hosted by the San Francisco Giants, the supervisor’s favorite team.

Hill committed suicide in 2020 during an FBI investigation into bribery and corruption.

To conceal the scheme, PB Companies allegedly provided falsified records to the FBI.

If convicted of all charges, Wright faces a statutory maximum sentence of five years in federal prison for the conspiracy count, 10 years in federal prison for the obstruction of justice count, and up to 20 years in federal prison for the falsification of records count.

The FBI and IRS Criminal Investigation are investigating this matter. The indictment by a federal grand jury is signed by Mack Jenkins, chief of Public Corruption and Civil Rights Section. Assistant U.S. attorneys Thomas F. Rybarczyk and Daniel J. O’Brien are prosecuting this case.


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BREAKING – Next UP- Heidi Harmon, Christine Dietrick, Megan Souza, and Eric Powers. They rigged the weed store selection process and it wasn’t free. Compliments of Helios Dayspring and Co. @sayhighmom :) #cityofslo #corruption

This is only a small portion of the corruption that has occurred and continues to occur in this county. It is sad that our local prosecutors are not on top of this. Why are all the obvious culprits still free? This is encouraging the corruption.

What I’m reading sounds like an insurrection, we know the FBI can round them all up as they are doing for the January 6th allegations, the only difference here is that this time it is the people in power, that definitely violated the public trust.

“What I’m reading sounds like an insurrection” No, That’s called your Imagination thinking this is related.

The FBI let the clock run out on most of the A Hill items.

Ok, let’s call it “taking matters into your own hands” but these guys decided to keep it in their own hands.

It makes even more sense now why Hill left us the way he did. Not that I advocate self harm in any way. BUT it seems to all fall in line. I wonder what Bruce is thinking today? Everyone knows they were close buddies. 2 pea’s in the same pod.

And not merciful towards Petetit, but it does seem like he got sucked down this rabbit hole? Guided by HILL’s demands and Belshers’ amoral, unethical habits that may have brought young Ryan down a dirty road? I don’t know, but it is odd this young guy gets involved with these dirty-dealing old Men and now his entire future is compromised? He should have walked away!! Make sure you know who you’re dealing with! Shame on ALL of them!

Karen!! YOU are BRILLIANT!! You have stood strong through thick and thin, all the Hell you were put through to bring out the TRUTH!! You are amazing! Thank youffor enduring! WE Love you! The BEST thing that’s happened to SLO! We can all stand on one very important rule: BE SURE THE TRUTH WILL ALWAYS FIND ITS WAY OUT!

Has the Tribune covered ANY of this extremely interesting story?

Nice reporting CCN!

Everybody in city hall was involved with protecting these guys. The FBI hopefully is widening it’s investigation and there will be a house cleaning at city hall.

We can hope.