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Former Cudahy councilman gets 3 years in extortion case

Osvaldo Conde is sentenced to three years in prison and must pay restitution for his part in taking bribes. The government had recommended a seven-year term.

February 27, 2013|By Ruben Vives, Los Angeles Times
  • Former Councilman Osvaldo Conde was the last of three officials to be sentenced in the federal case that authorities say exposed widespread corruption in Cudahy. As with the other two, he received a shorter sentence than the government's lawyer had recommended.
Former Councilman Osvaldo Conde was the last of three officials to be sentenced… (Anne Cusack, Los Angeles…)

A former Cudahy councilman was sentenced Monday to three years in federal prison for his role in an extortion and bribery case that authorities say exposed widespread corruption in the southeast Los Angeles County city.

Osvaldo Conde is the last of three officials to be sentenced in the federal case. U.S. Atty. Joseph Akrotirianakis recommended that Conde receive seven years in prison.

"We sought a higher sentence for him because he was the leader of the criminal activity in which all defendants were involved," Akrotirianakis said.

But as in the cases of two other Cudahy officials, U.S. District Judge Manuel Real ignored the federal prosecutor's sentencing recommendations.

Last month, former Mayor David Silva, 62, was sentenced to one year in prison, far less than the 41-month term federal prosecutors recommended. Angel Perales, Cudahy's former head of code enforcement and acting city manager, was sentenced to five years' probation. Akrotirianakis had recommended that Perales serve two years in prison.

"I would have liked Mr. Conde to get less time, but I'm relieved that the court didn't follow the government's sentencing," said Conde's attorney, George Bird. "It's neither a celebration nor the end of the world."

Like Silva and Perales, Conde is also required to pay restitution for his part in taking $17,000 in bribes from a man who wanted to open a medical marijuana dispensary in the city.

According to federal documents, all three were caught agreeing to take the money from an FBI informant claiming to want to open a medical marijuana dispensary. The FBI recorded telephone calls and face-to-face conversations with the former city officials.

In their plea agreements, the three portrayed Cudahy as a town where corruption was rampant among those wanting to do business with the city, where elections were rigged and where drugs were used at City Hall.

Court documents lay out a long list of people, usually identified only by their initials, involved in questionable acts. Akrotirianakis said the investigation is ongoing.

ruben.vives@latimes.com

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