A trio of city officials accepted plea deals in the on-going Cudahy corruption scandal and admitted to taking bribes in exchange for their support of marijuana dispensary permits. Former Councilman Osvaldo Conde on Wednesday became the latest Cudahy elected official to plead guilty to bribery and extortion charges. Ana Garcia reports for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on July 18, 2012.
Just over a week after two Cudahy officials agreed to plead guilty to federal charges in an ongoing corruption case that alleges bribery, extortion and election fraud in the small Los Angeles County city, a third official has reached a plea deal with prosecutors.
Councilman Osvaldo Conde agreed to plead guilty to one count of extortion and one count of bribery, according to documents released by the U.S. Attorney's Office Wednesday.
Conde, 50, had recently resigned from the City Council. When he was arrested last month, he holed up in a business he owned, leading to a four-hour standoff with police.
Conde's council colleague David Silva and former city code enforcement chief Angel Perales accepted plea deals last week.
"None of the three continues to serve as a public official in that city … It's a positive development in the case," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Akrotirianakis.
The three are slated to be arraigned Thursday in U.S. District Court in downtown Los Angeles, though they will not formally enter guilty pleas until a future hearing, according to Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney Office of the Central District of California.
Perales' plea agreement revealed allegations that elections in 2007 and 2009 were rigged in favor of incumbents.
Akrotirianakis said he could not comment on any additional charges for other city officials who were involved in election rigging. Perales' agreement protects him from prosecution on charges related to those alleged crimes.
"I should point out that the judge will be free to consider those additional facts" at sentencing time, Akrotirianakis noted.
The agreements also detailed other examples of alleged corruption at City Hall, including thousands of dollars of bribes and payments to city officials from contractors and people who ran businesses in the city southeast of downtown Los Angeles.
Akrotirianakis again said he couldn't comment on whether prosecutors will file charges against business owners who may have bribed city officials, but he noted that the same bribery statutes that apply to the three Cudahy officials could apply to those who may have offered or paid bribes.
"The investigation will continue," Akrotirianakis said. "I can't say the scope of the investigation, who the targets are or what the target charges are."
The three were implicated by a confidential FBI informant who in January and February pretended he wanted to open a marijuana dispensary in Cuduhy, according to court documents. In exchange for money, the councilmen said they would support a proposed pot shop.
Conde's plea agreement states that he accepted $5,000 in an envelope from the informant at El Potrero nightclub in Cudahy on Feb. 28, then got an additional $2,000 later that night. Silva and Perales also got $5,000 each.
The agreement in Conde's plea deal does not detail any instances of alleged election fraud.