Three Cudahy city officials who allegedly tried to shake down the owner of a medical marijuana clinic were arrested today on federal bribery charges.
Mayor David Silva, 61, Councilman Osvaldo Conde, 50, and Angel Perales, 43, who ran the Code Enforcement Division in Cudahy, all appeared in federal court this afternoon for allegedly soliciting and accepting a total of $17,000 in bribes.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Akrotirianakis described Conde as the ringleader of the group. Through a third party, the trio approached a medical marijuana clinic owner and demanded payment if the owner, who later became a FBI informant, wanted to receive a permit to open shop in Cudahy.
In February, the informant met the three men at El Potrero nightclub and gave them $15,000 in payment. Because Conde was the leader of the group, he later received an additional $2,000 in a meeting at an El Pollo Loco in La Mirada, according to federal authorities.
"Mr. Conde repeatedly related to the (confidential informant) that they were the leaders and they were the ones who were making things move in the Cudahy City Council," Akrotirianakis told reporters. "Mr. Conde repeatedly referred to himself as the leader."
Prosecutors allege Perales initially brokered the deal, telling 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.”
A 143-page affidavit details the crimes, which the confidential informant secretly recorded in conversations with the three men.
“The allegations in this case describe a corrosive and freewheeling attitude among certain officials in the city of Cudahy,” said U.S. Attorney Andre Birotte. “The stain left by public corruption is indelible, extending beyond any individual case because of the general erosion of public confidence in government.”
In court this afternoon, federal authorities argued Conde should remain in custody. They pointed out he had a gun on him when he was arrested this morning following a standoff. Agents also found three guns, including an assault rifle, at the home of Conde’s child’s mother.
However, U.S. Magistrate Judge John E. McDermott said he was unwilling to keep someone in custody for a bribery charge involving just $17,000. Under a complicated deal, Conde was granted a $100,000 bond, backed by his wife and two children. He was also required to surrender his passport and firearms, avoid contact with potential victims and witnesses related to the case, and take up residence with his adult son.
Conde’s family members were present in court, but declined to comment on the case. The son was allegedly with his father when Conde received the $2,000 bribe at the El Pollo Loco.
Silva and Perales were granted $50,000 appearance bonds. All three men have preliminary hearings set for July 13 and post-indictment arraignments on July 19.
Cudahy is a mostly working class Latino city of about 24,000 people that sits just off the 710 Freeway in southeast Los Angeles. The city is just south of Bell, where state prosecutors charged seven city officials in a wide-ranging political corruption scandal two years ago.
See the full affidavit below:
This story has been updated.