Brian Wright, a man prosecutors said masterminded a pair of jewelry store heists just months after walking free of similar allegations because of legal errors, told jurors Tuesday that an FBI agent had a vendetta against him.
After repeatedly calling the allegations against him “ridiculous” during closing arguments of his trial on robbery and conspiracy charges while acting as his own attorney, Wright pointed across U.S. District Judge Jennifer Dorsey’s courtroom where the agent, Christopher McPeak, was seated beside prosecutors.
“McPeak did this to me, and he’s going to get away with it and do it to one of you all,” Wright said. “This dude is a criminal. I close.”
Prosecutors Nadia Ahmed and Alexandra Michael argued that Wright had conspired with several others to commit a pair of armed jewelry store robberies in January 2017.
“The only conspiracy in this case is the one that the defendant framed,” Michael said. “He set the conspiracy forward, and he saw it through.”
While Wright did not walk into the stores, the prosecutors told jurors that phone records showed he was nearby and communicating with the gunmen during a holdup at Jared The Galleria of Jewelry on North Rainbow Boulevard and at MJ Christensen Diamonds on West Charleston Boulevard. More than $800,000 worth of merchandise was stolen.
Wright kept lookout and listened to a police scanner while the robberies occurred, and his fingerprint was found on a garbage bag that held some of the jewels, the prosecutors said.
“He put buffer upon buffer and layers between him and the people who were going into that store,” Ahmed said.
A panel of six women and six women is expected to start deliberating the evidence Wednesday morning.
Wright was not allowed to refer to previous allegations that let him walk free on what could have been a 100-year prison sentence.
In 2016, the government had failed to turn over key evidence to Wright until the morning of his trial in a series of 2014 heists.
More than $1.1 million in merchandise was stolen from Jared’s and two other jewelry stores in a 2014 robbery spree prosecutors had tied to Wright. Jared’s lost $319,322 in jewelry in 2014 and another $891,493 in the 2017 robbery.
Wright’s method of operation in 2014, according to prosecutors, matched his actions in 2017: He recruited gunmen and getaway drivers to carry out the robberies. He usually would be in the area and would collect the stolen goods, prosecutors alleged.
He did, however, argue that those involved in the 2017 robberies had lied when they took plea agreements and cooperated with the government to testify against him. He argued that the location of a phone did not prove he was at the scene of either heist.
“All these stories are being changed later,” he said. “That’s what’s crazy here… They have not one piece of evidence, not one that says I was at these locations.”