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Cudahy councilman Osvaldo Conde resigns in wake of bribery charges

July 18, 2012 | 11:44 am

Osvaldo Conde
Osvaldo Conde, one of three Cudahy city officials who have been accused of bribery and extortion, resigned from the City Council on Wednesday.

Conde is the only one of the three who has not agreed to plead guilty. Mayor David Silva resigned his post two weeks ago. Angel Perales, the head of code enforcement, had resigned shortly before the June 22 arrests.

"I think it's great news," Councilman Josue Barrios said. "The residents had to go through some tragedy, but when it's all said and done, the city can finally start to move forward."

Conde, elected in 1999, and Silva were among the council members who voted to appoint fellow council colleague George Perez as city manager. Perez, who served as city manager for more than a decade, had no college degree and little administrative experience.

City Manager Hector Rodriguez said Conde's resignation arrived in the mail.

Silva and Perales have agreed to plead guilty to accepting $17,000 in bribes from the owner of a medical marijuana dispensary who wanted to open a shop in Cudahy.

Documents released by federal prosecutors show a city government rife with corruption, with people wanting to do business with Cudahy paying bribes to city officials -- placing the cash in a shoebox in one instance -- and where drugs routinely were abused in City Hall. The documents also tell how absentee ballots in favor of insurgent candidates in the 2007 and 2009 elections were thrown out and that city officials persuaded non-residents to register to vote in Cudahy.

Three council members remain, still enough for a quorum. The council must decide whether to fill the vacant seats through a special election or appointment.

Blanca Ramos, founder of Cudahy Association-Unidos Salimos Adelante (United We Move Ahead), which had been calling on Conde to resign, called Conde's move "great news."

"We urge the remaining councilmen not to appoint anybody to fill in the empty seats until a new election process is supervised by the county of L.A.," she said. "We still are demanding a full investigation in City Hall, including a forensic audit."


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Photo: Cudahy city councilman Osvaldo Conde surrenders to the FBI after a long standoff at his business on June 22. Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times