CUDAHY (CBS) — Three officials with the city of Cudahy were in custody on Friday on federal bribery charges.
A criminal complaint filed in United States District Court alleges that the three officials from the city in southeastern Los Angeles County accepted a total of $17,000 in cash bribes earlier this year.
According to the affidavit in support of the complaint, three officials – City Council member Osvaldo Conde, Mayor David Silva and Angel Perales, who who runs the city’s Code Enforcement Division – requested and accepted cash payments in exchange for supporting the opening of a local medical marijuana store.
CHP and Los Angeles County Sheriff’s officials assisted the FBI with serving a warrant at a commercial strip mall at Wilcox Avenue and Clara Street as dozens of local residents looked on.
CBS2’s Dave Lopez reports Conde was taken into custody after a standoff with agents at an apartment that he reportedly sleeps in behind a market in the strip mall. Additional agents were called in as the FBI moved to serve the warrant after Conde was believed to have weapons in his possession.
Silva and Perales were already in custody prior to Friday’s search.
Conde, Silva, and Perales allegedly demanded and accepted $17,000 in cash from an unidentified party to approve the opening of a marijuana dispensary.
Conde, Silva and Perales are expected to make their initial court appearances Friday afternoon in United States District Court in downtown Los Angeles.
On the afternoon of February 28, 2012, following weeks of bribe solicitations and related discussions made during recorded meetings and telephone calls, Conde, Silva, and Perales met an FBI confidential informant at the El Potrero nightclub, according to the affidavit.
The three Cudahy city officials accepted a total of $15,000 cash as bribe payments, after which Conde met the confidential informant to receive an additional $2,000 cash as a bribe, the affidavit alleges.
The 146-page affidavit unsealed this morning describes an investigation in which federal law enforcement agents recorded multiple conversations with Cudahy city officials in which they 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”.
The affidavit also include photos of Conde with an unidentified woman at the El Portrero nightclub in Cudahy on March 24, 2012, when the councilman met with an undercover federal agent during the investigation. The woman is seen holding at least two firearms in the photos.
The city of Cudahy has a population of 24,000 and is located about seven miles southeast of downtown Los Angeles.