Former Compton City Councilman Isaac Galvan indicted on suspicion of offering bribes

LOS ANGELES CA AUGUST 13, 2021 - Compton City Councilman Isaac Galvan appeared in the downtown Los Angeles criminal courts building, where he was arraigned for conspiring to commit election fraud during a June runoff to ensure Galvan would retain his seat on Friday, August 13, 2021. Galvan won the election by one vote.
Former Compton city councilman Isaac Galvan appears in a Los Angeles courtroom in 2021. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

A former Compton City Council member who has been in legal hot water in the past was arrested on suspicion of taking part in a bribery scheme to secure marijuana permits, the U.S. attorney's office said.

Isaac Galvan and an Arcadia businessman bribed Ricardo Pacheco when he was a Baldwin Park councilman with $70,000 for the permits, according to a 10-count indictment unsealed Monday.

Galvan, 36, served on the Compton City Council from 2013 until 2022, when he lost his seat amid a vote-rigging scandal.

Also arrested was Arcadia business owner Yichang Bai, on whose behalf Galvan allegedly brokered the bribes.

Both Galvan and Bai were charged with one count of conspiracy, one count of bribery and eight counts of honest services wire fraud.

The scheme allegedly began sometime after 2017, when Baldwin Park began issuing permits for marijuana cultivation and distribution facilities.

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Pacheco — who pleaded guilty in 2021 to accepting nearly $40,000 in bribes to support the city's police association contract — began soliciting bribes for permits and development agreements in Baldwin Park, according to federal officials.

"In exchange for the illicit payments, Pacheco agreed to use his position in city government to assist the companies with obtaining marijuana permits, including voting in their favor," the U.S. attorney's office said in a release.

In August 2017, Galvan allegedly paid Pacheco $10,000 to ensure that he would obtain a marijuana permit for a future consulting client.

Bai then hired Galvan as a consultant, and Galvan allegedly arranged $70,000 in payments from Bai to Pacheco. The councilman eventually voted in favor of Bai's marijuana permit and voted to approve the relocation of Bai's business to Baldwin Park. Law enforcement officials did not say whether Pacheo was charged in the permit bribe scandal but noted that he signed a plea agreement "in which (he) agreed to cooperate in the government's ongoing investigation."

If convicted, Galvan and Bai face a maximum five-year sentence on the conspiracy charge, a 10-year sentence on the bribery charge and up to 20 years on each honest services wire fraud charge.

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Attorneys for Galvan, Bai and Pacheo could not be reached for comment.

The bribery charges are not the first criminal allegations that Galvan has faced.

In 2021, he was investigated for election rigging following a Compton City Council runoff election between him and Andre Spicer.

Galvan won the election by a single vote, but four of the votes that had been cast for Galvan were disqualified after a judge found that the ballots had been submitted by people who did not live in the contested council district.

The Los Angeles County district attorney's office charged Galvan and six others with conspiracy to commit election fraud. Galvan pleaded not guilty, and the case is ongoing.

According to the district attorney's office, Galvan conspired with one of his opponents in the primary election, Jace Dawson, to send voters who lived outside the council district to vote for Galvan.

Spicer was awarded the council seat in 2022. Galvan also faced a $240,000 fine for campaign finance violations.

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.