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Cudahy corruption: Ex-official pleads guilty to bribery, extortion

Cudahy arrests
A former ranking leader in Cudahy on Tuesday pleaded guilty in an extortion and bribery case that authorities say has exposed widespread corruption in the small Los Angeles County city. Two others are expected to do the same.

Angel Perales, the former head of code enforcement, parks and recreation, and interim city manager, and former council members Osvaldo Conde and David Silva previously agreed to plead guilty.

Conde and Silva are scheduled to plead Thursday before federal Judge Manuel Real, who accepted Perales' plea. Conde and Silva resigned from the council after they were arrested by FBI agents last month.

According to federal documents, all three were caught agreeing to take about $17,000 in bribes from an FBI informant who wanted to open a medical marijuana dispensary in the city. The FBI recorded telephone calls and face-to-face conversations with the former city officials.

In his brief appearance Tuesday, Perales, dressed in a blue suit and a blue necktie with white dots, answered “Yes” and “No” to the judge’s questions.

Perales could receive a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and a $500,000 fine.

In their plea agreements, Perales and Silva portrayed Cudahy as a town where corruption was rampant for those wanting to do business with the city, where elections were rigged and where drugs were used in city hall.

Court documents lay out a long list of people, usually identified only by their initials, involved in questionable acts. Among those named in the document is a former city official identified as “G.P.,” who appears to be former City Manager George Perez, who ran the city for more than a decade before he was fired without explanation.

Assistant U.S. Atty. Joseph Akrotirianakis said the investigation is continuing. A federal grand jury has been meeting on the case.

Also caught up in the scandal is Santa Fe Springs Councilman Serrano Sr., who has admitted taking $11,500 in bribes to fight off attempts to close marijuana dispensaries in his city.


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-- Jeff Gottlieb

Photo: FBI agents arrive at a shopping mall to arrest then-Councilman Osvaldo Conde. Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times.



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