In a series of shocking revelations that brought the dark underbelly of Baldwin Park's cannabis permit processes to light, former local politicians find themselves at the epicenter of multiple bribery charges. The most recent of these incidents saw Isaac Jacob Galvan, the former Compton city councilman, and his consulting client Yichang Bai, arrested on a federal grand jury indictment. They were charged with allegedly paying $70,000 in bribes to a Baldwin Park City Council member in exchange for his support and vote to secure commercial marijuana permits according to the United States Department of Justice.
Galvan, who served on the Compton City Council from 2013 until May 2022, now faces one count of conspiracy, one count of bribery, and eight counts of honest services wire fraud. His consulting client, Bai, the owner and operator of W&F International Corp., stands accused of playing a significant role in orchestrating the bribery scheme. If convicted of all charges, both Isaac Galvan and Yichang Bai could face years in federal prison as stated by the United States Department of Justice.
Digging deeper into the troubled waters of Baldwin Park's political landscape, former city councilmember Ricardo Pacheco has a tangled web of bribery charges and admissions to navigate. In 2022, Pacheco pleaded guilty to accepting tens of thousands of dollars in bribes, including $20,000 in cash, from a Baldwin Park police officer in exchange for his political support of the Baldwin Park Police Association’s contract with the city as reported by the United States Department of Justice.
Pacheco also admitted to soliciting bribes from businesses seeking marijuana development agreements and related permits in Baldwin Park soon after the city began permitting the cultivation, manufacture, and distribution of marijuana within its premises in June 2017. Galvan, who served on Compton’s City Council, alongside Bai, allegedly paid Pacheco $70,000 in bribes in a bid to ensure he used his position in city government to assist them in obtaining marijuana permits as stated by the United States Department of Justice.
In addition to Galvan and Bai's entanglement with Pacheco, another local politician with ties to Pacheco's bribery pursuits emerged in 2022. Gabriel Chavez, a former San Bernardino County planning commissioner, agreed to plead guilty to a bribery charge for funneling bribes through his company to Pacheco in exchange for his votes and influence over Baldwin Park's cannabis permitting process according to the United States Department of Justice.
Chavez admitted to acting as an intermediary to pass bribes to Pacheco on behalf of businesses seeking marijuana permits in Baldwin Park. In exchange for these bribes, Pacheco agreed to use his position and influence within the City Council to secure the permits. While these bribes were disguised as consulting payments to Chavez's company, Market Share Media Agency, they ultimately resulted in Chavez receiving at least $125,000 from one company and $45,000 on behalf of another as reported by the United States Department of Justice.
This seemingly endless trail of corruption casts a heavy shadow over Baldwin Park's cannabis industry. The bribery cases involving Pacheco, Galvan, Bai, and Chavez all point to a murky undercurrent within the city's political landscape, where backroom deals and under-the-table transactions have become the means to gain influence.