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Cudahy group wants 'immediate action' amid corruption scandal

July 3, 2012 | 11:40 am

Cudahy

Eleven days after three Cudahy officials were arrested for allegedly soliciting and accepting bribes in exchange for approving a medical marijuana dispensary, residents say they will return to City Hall on Tuesday to outline several demands.

A group called CAUSA — Cudahy Association Unidos Salimos Adelante — says it will attend the City Council meeting and call for the salaries of the two current council members involved to be suspended, along with a full investigation into any misconduct by all city officials and an independent audit of city-awarded contracts.

"We are calling for immediate action to correct these unethical and immoral abuses of the public's trust," the group said in a statement.

Council members David Silva and Osvaldo Conde and former head of code enforcement Angel Perales are accused of taking $17,000 in bribes from a dispensary owner, who was working as an FBI informant, in exchange for their help in opening a store in the southeast Los Angeles County community.

A 146-page criminal complaint indicates that the June 22 arrests were part of a larger investigation that includes allegations of election fraud in Cudahy, along with further corruption involving a towing company and a sheriff's deputy.

Less than a week later, Santa Fe Springs Councilman Joseph Serrano Sr. agreed to plead guilty to one federal count of felony bribery in connection with allegations that he repeatedly shook down a dispensary operator who was working as an FBI informant.

When reached by The Times last week, Assistant U.S. Atty. Margaret L. Carter declined to comment on whether more arrests were expected, but said: "Certainly our efforts to continue to investigate bribe-taking are not over."

Hundreds of people attended an emergency City Council meeting last week in Cudahy, where some called on Silva and Conde to step down while others talked about a possible recall election. Many said they were concerned about the financial toll of the corruption probe and worried it would taint the small city's reputation.

"We need to all come to the council meetings," Umberto Espinoza, 62, said. "We all need to attend these meetings and to ask questions."

ALSO:

Cudahy arrests add salt to L.A. County area's civic wounds

Cudahy councilman surrenders after 5-hour standoff with FBI

Hundreds turn out for Cudahy town hall after corruption charges

— Kate Mather and Ruben Vives

Photo: Cudahy City Councilman Osvaldo Conde surrenders to FBI after a standoff at his business on Friday. Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times

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