UPLAND (CBS) — The former mayor of Upland pleaded guilty Thursday to a federal bribery charge after accepting $5,000 in exchange for helping a business get a conditional use permit from the city.
John Pomierski, 58, entered his plea Thursday in U.S. District Court and faces up to 10 years in prison when he’s sentenced on Aug. 6. Pomierski resigned as mayor last year after he was named in a grand jury indictment accusing him of conspiracy, extortion and bribery. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Aug. 6 and faces a statutory maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.
Aaron Sandusky, owner of medical marijuana dispensary G3 Holistic Inc. in Upland, is one of the key figures in the case that brought down Pomierski.
“I’m glad that’s over,” Sandusky said.
He had told the FBI that a representative of then Mayor Pomierski approached him and said that he could smooth the way to city-approval for the dispensary for the right price.
Sandusky said that he made a $10,000 payment because being a marijuana dispensary, what else could he do?
“Where do we go? You know, because of the nature of our business, we really had nowhere to go. We couldn’t go to the chief of police, who no longer was there nor could we go to the federal government, because of the business we’re in,” Sandusky said.
The story broke last year when federal agents swooped down on Pomierski’s house and City Hall, carrying off box-loads of files and computers.
Sandusky went public, outlining his charges and describing how the bribe was proposed in an interview exclusive to KCAL9 News.
“They were asking for $20,000 at the time,” Sandusky said during the interview.
There have been big changes in Upland since the former mayor was indicted and now has allegedly admitted guilt.
A former city manager and police chief are gone. There is a new city attorney and two new councilmembers.
“Those days are over. They’re by far over. Those days are way over,” said Upland’s mayor Ray Musser.
Pomierski is the third defendant to be convicted in relation to a corruption investigation in the city of Upland, federal officials said.
Building Appeals board member John Hennes pleaded guilty in November to conspiracy and making false statements to FBI agents. An indictment alleged Hennes communicated Pomierski’s extortion demands to the business owner and collected money on his behalf. Hennes, who is scheduled to be sentenced June 25, faces a statutory maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.
Sandusky said his cooperation with the FBI has not bought him any good faith with federal law enforcement. His medical marijuana dispensary has been raided twice since the case began with all of the marijuana and funds being confiscated by federal agents.