Santa Ana Mayor Sued For Allegedly Accepting Bribes In Exchange For Granting Marijuana Licenses
A new federal lawsuit against the mayor of Santa Ana is alleging that the city accepted bribes in exchange for granting marijuana licenses to dispensaries.
The city of Santa Ana is still in turmoil over a surveillance video purporting to show police officers in ski masks raiding the Sky High Holistic dispensary three weeks ago with guns drawn, eating marijuana, playing darts and attempting to take down any and all surveillance gear in the shop, NBC Los Angeles reports.
An internal investigation, conducted by the Santa Ana Police Department, is ongoing.
What makes the situation worse is that the lawsuit claims police were used to crack down on dispensaries that refused to pay bribes, which may explain the reason for the raid on Sky High. According to attorney Matthew Pappas, the city encouraged dispensaries to pay up $25,000 dollars in bribes, in order to receive guaranteed licenses. Pulido also allegedly accepted dinners and money personally.
Mayor Miguel Pulido fervently denied the claims.
“There is no money, there is no influencing any process in any manner I think (Pappas) is trying to protect his client and trying to just keep operating illegally. Sometimes the best defense is offense,” Pulido added, according to NBC Los Angeles.
The city initially contracted with an accounting firm to establish the lottery system to issue licenses, and in February, 20 dispensaries won permits. Then came enforcement. Officials began cutting off water and power to dispensaries unsuccessful in the lottery, as well as sending in police to close down shops.
This isn’t the first time Pulido has gotten himself into hot water in recent months. In May, Pulido agreed to pay $13,000 in fines. The Fair Political Practice Commission found that he committed 6 violations of the Political Reform Act, one of which involved a vote to renew city business with an auto parts dealer after Pulido conducted a transaction with the dealer four months prior.
“Mayor Pulido knew or should have known that his vote on the contract with the auto parts store was prohibited by his own recent real estate transaction with the store owner,” the report noted.
No criminal charges resulted from his political misconduct.
The first hearing regarding the new lawsuit is set for June 19.
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