A federal court in Los Angeles sentenced a former Santa Fe Springs city council member Monday to two years in federal prison for accepting $10,000 in bribes from a medical marijuana dispensary owner who was trying to keep his shop open in the city.
Joseph Serrano Sr., 62, told the marijuana shop owner he could influence the vote of other city council members who were deciding on how to regulate marijuana dispensaries in the city. The pot shop owner turned into an FBI criminal informant.
An undercover medical marijuana shop owner also worked with the FBI to take down Cudahy city officials who took bribes.
Former Cudahy mayor David Silva was supposed to be in court Monday for sentencing but his hearing was postponed to Dec. 10. He faces a maximum of 30 years in prison for taking a $5,000 bribe from the informant. Two other Cudhay city officials also pleaded guilty to accepting bribes.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Akrotirianakis is taking the lead on both the cases.
“It is equally evident that a serious punishment is necessary to deter other elected officials from engaging in similar abuses of the public’s trust,” he wrote in the sentencing memo for Serrano.
“The need for a punishment sufficient to accomplish general deterrence appears particularly grave at this time,” Akrotririanakis wrote.
U.S. District Judge Stephen V. Wilson ordered Serrano to pay the FBI back the $10,000 the agency used in bribes to investigate the case. Serrano will begin serving his prison sentence by Dec. 4.