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California Mayor Allegedly Took Medical Marijuana Bribes

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June 22 (Bloomberg) -- The mayor of Cudahy, California, and two other city officials were charged with accepting $17,000 in bribes for supporting the opening of a medical marijuana store in the city of 23,800 people southeast of Los Angeles.

After weeks of soliciting and discussing bribes, the three officials met in February with a Federal Bureau of Investigation informant at the El Potrero nightclub in Cudahy, where they accepted a $15,000 cash payment, according to a statement today from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles. One of the three accepted a separate $2,000 payment, according to the statement.

The three charged are Mayor David Silva, 61, City Council member Osvaldo Conde, 50, and Angel Perales, 43, who runs the city’s code enforcement division and allegedly brokered the bribe payments. Each of them faces as long as 10 years in prison if convicted.

“The allegations in this case describe a corrosive and freewheeling attitude among certain officials in the city of Cudahy,” U.S. Attorney Andre Birotte Jr. in Los Angeles said in the statement. “The Department of Justice will aggressively investigate and pursue cases like this to ensure that the integrity of good government is protected and preserved.”

City Cooperating

Hector Rodriguez, Cudahy’s city manager, said in a phone interview that he hadn’t seen the charges and that the city would cooperate with investigators. Silva and Conde are part-time officials and Perales resigned last week, Rodriguez said.

The city currently has a moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries and, Rodriguez said, he will propose extending the moratorium for another year.

The city, named after an Irish meatpacker who bought a ranch east of Los Angeles in 1908 and subdivided the land, is 94 percent Latino and the residents have a median income of $29,040, according to an affidavit of the FBI agent investigating the case.

James Bisnow, Silva’s lawyer according to the court’s criminal duty calendar, and Charles Brown, a federal public defender listed as representing Conde, didn’t immediately return calls to their offices seeking comment on the charges. Calls to the office of Carlos Iriarte, a lawyer listed for Perales, weren’t answered.

The cases are U.S. v. Conde, 12-1490M, U.S. v. Perales, 12-1491M, and U.S. v. Silva, 12-1492M, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Los Angeles.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Edvard Pettersson in Los Angeles at epettersson@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net.

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