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Marijuana dispensary corruption probe spreads to second city

June 28, 2012 |  1:18 pm

Joseph Serrano Sr.A Santa Fe Springs councilman agreed to plead guilty to a federal charge that he took $11,500 in bribes from a medical marijuana dispensary operator who wanted the city to allow him to keep his shop open.

Last week, federal authorities arrested three current and former city officials in the nearby city of Cudahy on similar charges.

Former Santa Fe Springs Mayor Joseph Serrano Sr., 62, has agreed to plead guilty to one felony bribery count. Serrano admitted that he asked a dispensary operator, who worked as a confidential informant for the FBI, to give him money in exchange for information about the city's plans to regulate dispensaries. Serrano also promised to use his influence to persuade the city to allow the informant's dispensary to stay open, according to the U.S. attorney's office.

Serrano admitted in the plea agreement that he had taken $10,000 in cash and a $1,500 "loan" in the form of a check from the dispensary owner.

U.S. attorney's office spokesman Thom Mrozek declined to confirm whether the informant in the Santa Fe Springs case was the informant in the Cudahy case.

Serrano faces a maximum sentence of up to 10 years.

RELATED:

Three Cudahy city officials face federal bribery charges

Affidavit lists drug use at Cudahy City Hall, bribe negotiation

Cudahy arrests add salt to southeast L.A. County civic wounds

-- Abby Sewell

Photo: Joseph Serrano Sr. Credit: Ruben Vives / Los Angeles Times

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