Office of the District Attorney - Maggie Fleming, District Attorney
July 22, 2022
Yesterday, Humboldt County Judge Kaleb Cockrum sentenced 52-year-old Mark Jonathan Wright to 5 years in prison for multiple felonies committed over several years in Fortuna.
In 2018, surveillance video showed Wright causing more than $8000 in damage at Leonardo Logging. He received probation after pleading guilty to felony vandalism (Penal Code section 594) in that case and to misdemeanor vandalism in several separate cases.
In March 2020, a citizen observed Wright pouring lighter fluid on the electrical meter of a business in Fortuna. The District Attorney’s Office charged Wright with that crime (Penal Code section 453(a): possessing/disposing of a material for arson) later in 2020, but due to delays caused by Covid the case did not proceed until March 2021, after Wright had been arrested for additional felonies. Wright eventually pled guilty in this case.
In early 2021, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), in collaboration with both the River Life Foundation and the FPD, began investigating damage along Strongs Creek caused by Wright camping and leaving trash. The CDFW warden questioned Wright about the trash and his possible involvement in other crimes. Following that interview, FPD submitted a report to the District Attorney’s Office that included the charge of auto theft (Vehicle Code section 10851).
Also in early 2021, the FPD responded to the Double D’s Steakhouse for a vandalism report. FPD soon discovered that surveillance video showed Wright had broken light bulbs and the picture window of the restaurant.
Following his arrest in that case, the District Attorney’s Office charged Wright with multiple crimes attributed to him in 2021. Wright then pled guilty to the felony charges and admitted the violation of his grant of probation in 2018. Wright was sentenced to 6 months in jail and 4 years and 6 months out of custody on supervision. (Recent changes in California law (Penal Code section 1170(h)) now dictate that convictions for felony vandalism, possessing/disposing of a material for arson, and auto theft cannot result in prison sentences.)
In March 2022, Wright committed his most recent known felony by setting multiple fires in Fortuna along Riverwalk Drive and Newburg Road. He subsequently pled guilty to felony arson (Penal Code section 452(c)) in that case and admitted to violations of probation and supervision conditions from his preceding cases.
The conviction for felony arson allowed Judge Cockrum to sentence Wright to prison. Wright received 3 years for the vandalism in 2021 and 2 more years for additional crimes, specifically 8 months each for auto theft, the 2018 vandalism charge, and the possession of material for arson. (When a person is sentenced for multiple crimes, the sentences for general felonies beyond the first crime are limited to 1/3 of the midterm. General felonies have a sentence triad of 16 months/2 years/3 years; 1/3 of the midterm of 2 years is 8 months.) Wright’s sentence on the arson charge will run concurrently with the 5-year term for the other charges.