Ex-Compton councilman paid bribes for marijuana permits, DOJ says

A former councilman for the city of Compton has been arrested on a federal grand jury indictment accusing him and a consulting client of paying $70,000 in bribes to another politician in exchange for for marijuana permits, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Isaac Jacob Galvan, 36, was arrested Monday at his Compton home on a 10-count indictment filed earlier this month.

Also arrested as part of the bribery scheme was Yichang Bai, 50, of Arcadia, the owner and operator of W&F International Corp., a Diamond Bar-based import-export business.

Galvan and Bai are charged with one count each of conspiracy and bribery, and eight counts of honest services wire fraud, officials said.

Galvan allegedly paid the funds to a “corrupt” member of the Baldwin Park City Council, identified as Ricardo Pacheco, for votes and to support commercial marijuana permits for Bai’s corporation.

Back in 2017, Baldwin Park began allowing the cultivation, manufacture and distribution of marijuana within city limits, officials explained.

Around then, Pacheco, 60, apparently began soliciting bribes from businesses seeking marijuana development agreements and related permits, court documents show.

In exchange for the payments, Pacheco then agreed to use his position in the Baldwin Park City Council to help companies get the needed permits, including voting in their favor, officials said.

Galvan allegedly first paid Pacheco $10,000 in August 2017 to secure his support for a further consulting client’s marijuana permit, officials said.

After securing W&F as a client, Galvan then allegedly facilitated $70,000 in bribes from Bai to Pacheco.

Galvan, who served on the City Council from 2013 until May 2022, allegedly paid the bribes in exchange for Pacheco’s political support of and promise to deliver Baldwin Park’s approval of marijuana permits for W&F, officials explained. Pacheco ultimately voted in favor of W&F’s marijuana permit and later voted in favor of W&F’s bid to relocate.

Pacheco, who was Baldwin Park’s mayor pro tempore in 2018, resigned from his post on the City Council in 2020.

During the scheme, Galvan and Bai allegedly took steps to cover up their bribes to Pacheco by concealing Bai and W&F’s connection to the payments, officials said.

As an example, Bai allegedly collected checks from third parties who owed him money and gave Galvan the checks with blank payee lines. Galvan allegedly gave the checks to Pacheco, who then arranged for them to be cashed, either by him or third parties, according to the indictment.

Galvan and Bai face a maximum sentence of five years in federal prison for the conspiracy count, up to 10 years in federal prison for the bribery count and up to 20 years in federal prison for each honest services wire fraud count, officials said. They are set to be arraigned Monday afternoon.

Pacheco pleaded guilty in June 2020 to one count of bribery for accepting tens of thousands of dollars in bribes – including $20,000 in cash – from a Baldwin Park Police officer working with the FBI in exchange for the council member’s political support of the Baldwin Park Police Association’s contract with the city, officials said. His sentencing hearing is scheduled for next year.

“This case is yet another example of my office’s determination to root out public corruption and backroom deals that corrode our political system. We will continue to pursue politicians who violate their sacred oaths by placing their own desires ahead of their constituents’ needs,” U.S. Attorney Martin Estrada said.

“City Councilmen hold positions of trust. That trust is broken when these public officials commit crimes like bribery, but when they do IRS Criminal Investigation, and our law enforcement partners will be there to seek justice on behalf of the citizens,” said Tyler Hatcher, the criminal investigation special agent in charge of the IRS’ Los Angeles field office.

Galvan has also faced scrutiny for an alleged election-rigging schedule, according to the Los Angeles Times.

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