Feds indict Vallejo men on bribery charges connected to pot grow operation
(Stock image, Graphic by Solano NewsNet)
Federal prosecutors this week obtained an indictment against two Vallejo men who are accused of bribing a city official in connection with an illegal pot growing operation there.
On Friday, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Sacramento said a grand jury had returned a two-count indictment against Steven Chu of San Bruno and Ben Guan of San Francisco on federal program bribery charges.
The case began in June 2020 when the City of Vallejo began receiving complaints of an illegal marijuana grow operation on a property along Capitol Street, according to a copy of the indictment reviewed by Solano NewsNet.
After receiving the complaints, the city sent a building inspector to review the Capitol Street property. The inspector determined the property was being used to illegally grow marijuana, and the city notified the property owner as well as Chu and Guan that they were in violation of numerous city ordinances and state laws.
From there, Chu and Guan allegedly bribed an unnamed city official to look the other way with respect to their illegal marijuana grow operation.
Federal officials have charged Chu and Guan with federal program bribery because the City of Vallejo received several thousand dollars through a federal Housing and Urban Development (HUD) initiative, though it was unclear how the HUD funds were connected to the bribery scheme.
Also unclear clear is how federal investigators became aware of the scheme, with information about how agents discovered the ruse unavailable in the indictment published on Friday.
Both Chu and Guan face prison time if they are convicted, though prosecutors appeared more interested in having their money and property forfeited.