Two former Calexico officials, including an ex-councilman, pleaded guilty Thursday to federal corruption charges.
David Romero and Bruno Suarez Soto entered pleas in San Diego federal court to conspiracy to commit bribery, federal prosecutors said.
Calexico has a population of around 40,000 and is located in Imperial County on the U.S.-Mexico border. Romero was the city’s mayor pro tem and was scheduled to become mayor before he resigned Monday. Soto was on the Economic Development and Financial Advisory Commission.
In a plea agreement, the two men acknowledged that they accepted $35,000 in cash from an undercover FBI agent they believed represented investors who wanted to open a cannabis dispensary in town, according to a statement from the U.S. Department of Justice.
Get San Diego local news, weather forecasts, sports and lifestyle stories to your inbox. Sign up for NBC San Diego newsletters.
In return, they “guaranteed the rapid issuance of a city permit for the dispensary, and to revoke or hinder other applicants if necessary to ensure that the bribe payer’s application was successful,” the statement said.
Both men also said they had taken bribes from others in the past, with Soto telling the FBI agent: “This isn’t our first rodeo,” according to court documents.