California Officials To Plead Guilty in Marijuana Bribe Scandal

The three officials embroiled in a votes-for-cash scandal involving the opening of a marijuana dispensary in a Los Angeles suburb have agreed to guilty pleas on charges of extortion and bribery. bribe.png

Los Angeles marijuana lawyers understand that each of the three former officials from Cudahy face the possibility of a 30-year maximum prison sentence under federal law.

While this case made headlines, the reality is that such scenarios are not shocking and likely happen far more often than you might think.

What happened in this situation was that a councilman, mayor and acting city manager reportedly pursued and accepted bribes of several thousand dollars in exchange for their support of a local marijuana dispensary, which would have been the first in the city.

It’s an unfortunate case all around because while these three have lost their careers and their freedom, it makes it seem as if the medical marijuana industry is something that can only gain support through ill means.

In actuality, these are operations that cater to those who are suffering from acute and chronic illnesses. The medicinal benefits have been well-researched and documented. There is no need for these back-alley deals.

However, it’s likely given the current tide of anti-marijuana propaganda and legal action sweeping down from the federal government that would-be dispensary operators feel trapped. As it turns out, the politicians were actually soliciting funds from an undercover informant for the Federal Bureau of Investigation. If you own a dispensary or are trying to kick-start an operation, this just further highlights how critical it is for you to have an experienced Los Angeles marijuana legal team on your side. Despite the ongoing federal crackdown, state law has issued the right of dispensaries to operate and of patients to seek their services – but it has to be done within the confines of state law and local ordinances.

In this case, Councilman Osvaldo Conde reportedly approached the dispensary owner with a proposal that would have resulted in a portion of the operation’s proceeds going to himself, as well as Mayor David Silva and acting City Manager Angel Perales – in exchange for support for the dispensary’s opening. It would have made this dispensary the first to open in Cudahy.

The informant reportedly paid the three officials a total of $17,000 in cash in exchange for their permitting support.

Prosecutors have indicated that both the former mayor and acting city manager have admitted their roles in the alleged scheme, saying they did in fact engage in corrupt behavior.

As it turned out, the former mayor, who had served on council for more than two decades, reportedly also admitted to taking bribes from a number of officials, including a developer who was hoping to purchase city land at a discounted price.

And the city manager? He reportedly admitted to being a “bag man,” meaning that he regularly took bribes on behalf of the other two, adding that elections fraud had been committed in the 2007 election.

The Los Angeles CANNABIS LAW Group represents growers, dispensaries, collectives, patients and those facing marijuana charges. Call us at 714-937-2050.

Additional Resources:
California city official to admit taking bribes over pot dispensaries, By Dan Whitcomb, Reuters

More Blog Entries:
Mayor, 2 Other Officials, Arrested for Medical Marijuana Bribes, July 4, 2012, Los Angeles Marijuana Lawyer Blog