DOJ alleges bribery scheme to open medical marijuana store

Michael P. Tremoglie Jun. 26, 2012, 10:38am

LOS ANGELES (Legal Newsline) - The FBI on Friday arrested the mayor of Cudahy, Calif., a member of the Cudahy City Council and the head of the City's Code Enforcement Division on federal bribery charges.

The officials allegedly accepted bribes from someone attempting to open a marijuana store.

The criminal complaint filed in federal court alleged that the three officials accepted a total of $17,000 in cash bribes earlier this year. According to the affidavit in support of the complaint, the three officials requested and accepted cash payments in exchange for supporting the opening of a "medical marijuana" store in the city, which is located near Los Angeles.

The three officials are Osvaldo Conde, 50, a member of the Cudahy City Council who allegedly accepted two separate bribe payments; David Silva, 61, the current mayor of Cudahy; and Angel Perales, 43, who runs the Code Enforcement Division.

"The stain left by public corruption is indelible, extending beyond any individual case because of the general erosion of public confidence in government," United States Attorney Andre Birotte Jr said.

"The allegations in this case describe a corrosive and freewheeling attitude among certain officials in the City of Cudahy. The Department of Justice will aggressively investigate and pursue cases like this to ensure that the integrity of good government is protected and preserved."

According to court documents, Conde, Silva and Perales met an FBI confidential informant at the El Potrero nightclub in Cudahy. They allegedly accepted a total of $15,000 cash as bribe payments, and Conde allegedly received an additional $2,000 later that evening.

Federal law enforcement agents recorded a number of conversations with Cudahy city officials. During those conversations, the city officials explained that the Cudahy City Council planned to approve only one or two permits for marijuana stores in Cudahy.

Perales allegedlyexplained to the informant that "(t)here are three parts to this game... these guys (Conde and Silva) are not your typical...council people. (T)hey've dealt with, uh, you know, people that throw money down."

Each defendant could receive 10 years in federal prison.

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