Mayor, 2 Other Officials, Arrested for Medical Marijuana Bribes

Los Angeles marijuana lawyers know our clients have been battling an image problem for years, with countless politicians painting them as criminals.

The truth, however, is that medical marijuana dispensaries in California are providing an invaluable – and legal – service to the ill and infirm. And as it turns out, on more than one occasion, it’s the politicians who are the real crooks.

Take, for example, the recent arrest of Cudahy Mayor David Silva. The 61-year-old, along with a council member and a code enforcement official, ages 50 and 43, are accused of pressing for and accepting payments in excess of $17,000 – in exchange for their vote in favor of medical marijuana within the city.

Cudahy, which is just southeast of Los Angeles, was dealing with what almost every municipality in the state has been dealing with, albeit on a smaller scale. The question was on the table about whether city officials should allow the opening of a medical marijuana store there – Cudahy’s first.

The city was toying with the idea of whether to grant one or two permits. But it appears they weren’t willing to do so for free.

It’s not clear exactly what sparked the inquiry by the Federal Bureau of Investigations, but we do know, according to the U.S. Justice Department, that the officials met with an undercover informant at a local nightclub recently. While there, they reportedly accepted a down payment of $15,000. Another of the three men accepted an additional $2,000 down payment.

One of the councilman was quoted by the informant as saying that there are three parts to “this game,” by which he presumably meant elected government. He went on to say that the city council members were not “typical,” and that they “deal with people that throw money down.” It appears the three thought they were dealing with a representative of a dispensary.

Each of them is facing federal bribery charges, which could result in prison terms of up to 10 years if convicted.

According to the city manager, the mayor and council member are part-time employees. The code enforcement official, who reportedly brokered the deal, has resigned.

While the case is sensational, it’s not shocking. Marijuana lawyers know that at a time when dispensaries, clinics, collectives, growers and patients are all being pressed on their rights, there are going to be those who aim to take advantage of the situation. However, it’s important for each of these individuals to understand that if you’re pressed for money by a public official of any kind, your first call needs to be to a skilled Los Angeles marijuana lawyer. As in this case, police involvement may be possible, but law enforcement is not going to ensure your interests are protected throughout the course of the investigation. Your lawyer will.

As part of their investigation in this case, FBI officials have severed a federal subpoena at City Hall, where they are demanding access to documents relating to recent elections, including the ballots in this city of 24,000.

The CANNABIS LAW GROUP offers experienced and aggressive representation to the medical marijuana industry in Southern California– including growers, dispensaries and collectives, patients and those facing marijuana charges. Call 714-937-2050 for a confidential consultation to discuss your rights.

Additional Resources:
California Mayor Allegedly Took Medical Marijuana Bribes, By Edvard Pettersson, Bloomberg News

More Blog Entries:
L.A. Pot Dispensaries Don’t Breed Crime, June 8, 2012, Los Angeles Marijuana Lawyer Blog