Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Five Baldwin Park Employees Resign Amidst Federal Corruption Probe

From October 2022 to February of 2023, five Baldwin Park employees have suddenly resigned amidst an FBI investigation into a cannabis pay to play scheme. The employees are Greg Richie and Jose Martinez from code enforcement; Carol Averell from housing; Jesus Hernandez from finance; and Fabialo Zelaya-Melicher, from the planning department.

Residents suspect that the code enforcement employees resigned, because their director, Ron Garcia, was illegally having employees sign off on permits that failed to meet city standards and requirements. Garcia's been suspected of receiving payoffs from businesses to do so.

Further pressure has also strained city employees. Recently, a federal RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) lawsuit has been filed against a number of administrators, city officials, and employees. The former city clerk, Lourdes Morales, has been sued personally for fraudulently forging a notary transaction from a victim with cancer.

Suzanne Ruelas, a former finance employee of Baldwin Park, has filed an employment lawsuit against City of Baldwin Park. According to Ruelas - Director Rose Tam - has been misappropriating housing funds and co-mingling funds to achieve corrupt purposes. Finance employees have been refusing Tam's request to sign off on illegal fund transfers.

The federal probe was kicked off after Ricardo Pacheco was caught soliciting bribes from the police union. Since then, Pacheco has ratted out a number of local government officials and administrators for participating in a cannabis bribery scheme, which sold cannabis licenses to the highest bidders.

Since the federal probe, Council Member Ricardo Pacheco; City Attorney, Robert Tafoya; Chief of Police, Michael Taylor; and City Clerk, Lourdes Morales have resigned.