A former Baldwin Park city councilmember has pleaded guilty to accepting tens of thousands of dollars in bribes – including $20,000 in cash – from a Baldwin Park Police officer working at the FBI’s direction, in exchange for the councilmember’s political support of the Baldwin Park Police Association’s contract with the city, the Justice Department announced today.
Ricardo Pacheco, 58, of Baldwin Park, who was elected to the City Council in 1997 and served as mayor pro tempore in 2018, pleaded guilty on June 15 to a federal bribery charge. On Tuesday, federal prosecutors unsealed a criminal information against Pacheco, as well as portions of a plea agreement in which Pacheco agreed to fully cooperate in ongoing public corruption investigations. The unsealed plea agreement contains a redacted statement of facts to protect the integrity of ongoing aspects of those investigations.
In the documents unsealed this week, Pacheco admitted to soliciting and receiving a total of $37,900 in bribes from a Baldwin Park police officer from January through October 2018 to support and vote for the Police Association’s contract, which was worth at least $4.4 million over three years. The police officer who made the payments did so at the direction of the FBI after another officer and he approached the FBI and agreed to assist in its ongoing corruption investigation. In exchange for the payments, Pacheco voted in favor of the Police Association contract in March 2018.
The payments to Pacheco included a $20,000 cash bribe in October 2018, which the police officer provided to him in an envelope in a Baldwin Park coffee shop. Pacheco also solicited and received $17,900 in checks that he directed be made out to his church and sham political action committees he had set up using other individuals’ names but which he controlled.
As part of his plea agreement, Pacheco agreed to resign from his City Council seat, which he did in June. Pacheco also agreed to forfeit $83,145 in cash proceeds seized by the FBI, which included $62,900 that Pacheco said he had buried in his backyard in two locations.
Pacheco pleaded guilty before United States District Judge Otis D. Wright II. Pacheco is scheduled to be sentenced on August 2, at which time he will face a statutory maximum sentence of 10 years in federal prison.