CUDAHY - Three officials from the city of Cudahy - including the mayor - were arrested by FBI special agents last week after allegedly taking bribes from a person who wanted to open a medical marijuana dispensary in the city.A criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court alleges that the three officials accepted $17,000 in cash bribes earlier this year. According to a court affidavit, the officials requested and accepted cash payments in exchange for supporting the opening of a medical marijuana clinic in Cudahy. The FBI arrested mayor David Silva, 61; councilman Osvaldo Conde, 50; and Angel Perales, 43, who runs the Code Enforcement department and is also head of the city's Parks and Recreation department. "The stain left by public corruption in indelible, extending beyond any individual case because of the general erosion of public confidence in government," said United States Attorney Andre Birotte Jr. "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 the affidavit, Conde, Silva and Perales met with an FBI informant on Feb. 28 "following weeks of bribe solicitations and related discussions." The three officials allegedly accepted $15,000 in cash, and later that evening, Conde allegedly received an additional $2,000. The 143-page affidavit, which was unsealed last week, describes an investigation in which 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. According to the affidavit, Perales sought to broker an arrangement between an FBI informant and city officials in which the informant would make cash payments in exchange for the officials supporting a request for one of the permits. Perales explained to the informant that "[t]here are three parts to this game" -- Conde, Silva and himself, according to the affidavit. Perales also allegedly told the informant that "these guys [Conde and Silva] are not your typical...council people. [T]hey've dealt with, uh, you know, people that throw money down." Prior to a meeting with Conde and Silva at a Pico Rivera restaurant, Perales instructed the informant how he should broach the topic of paying the bribes, and later instructed the informant on how to present the bribes, specifying that the payments should be in cash only, according to the affidavit. If convicted, each official faces 10 years in federal prison. "The alleged participation by multiple public officials in a bribery scheme is unfair to the residents of Cudahy," said Steven M. Martinez, FBI assistant director in charge. "This case will send the right message to corrupt public officials and is a step toward restoring honest stewardship to the City of Cudahy."
********** Published: June 28, 2012 - Volume 11 - Issue 11