If, after the Bell salary scandal, you began to think of Southeast L.A. County as a hotbed of corruption, you were right.
Only a week after allegations that three city officials from Cudahy, including Mayor David Silva, took bribes from someone who sought to open a marijuana dispensary in town comes word that onetime Santa Fe Springs Mayor Joseph Serrano took cash from a pot shop that wanted to stay open in that city.
The U.S. Attorney's Office in Los Angeles said this afternoon that Serrano ...
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... agreed to plead guilty to a bribery charge as part of a plea agreement filed in U.S. District Court this morning.
The feds allege that a marijuana dispensary operator gave Serrano several payments of $1,500 to $3,000 for what he teased as inside information on the City Council's deliberations about regulating pot shops.
Prosecutors said he did, in fact, deliver on his side of the bargain, according to the plea agreement:
On several occasions, defendant [Serrano] did in fact provide the dispensary operator with inside information regarding the City's regulation of marijuana dispensaries.
At one point Serrano asked for monthly installments, feds alleged, quoting Serrano as saying:
I don't want to say being put on the payroll, but on a monthly basis getting something from you.
But after the first payment, the U.S. Attorney's Office states, the store operator had become a federal informant. The amount paid, say prosecutors, was $11,500.
During the time Serrano was the mayor of Santa Fe Springs. In 2012 he went back to being a city councilman.
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The U.S. Attorney in L.A., André Birotte, Jr., said:
Mr. Serrano chose to use his public office to shamelessly line his own pockets rather than use his elected position for the public good.
Although bribery could carry 10 years behind bars, the plea agreement calls for prosecutors to recommend 3: A federal judge will have the last word. Serrano is due in court July 12.