Former Compton councilman indicted on bribery charges

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By Emilie St. John

Contributing Writer

COMPTON — Former City Councilman Isaac Galvan has been charged in a 10-count indictment on federal bribery charges related to the city of Baldwin Park.

The indictment alleges he and his consulting client paid $70,000 in bribes to a member of the Baldwin Park City Council in exchange for that official’s votes and support for commercial marijuana permits.

“Former Compton City Councilmember Isaac Galvan stands accused of paying tens of thousands of dollars to a corrupt member of the Baldwin Park City Council in order to enrich himself and a client with a marijuana business,” said U.S. Attorney Martin Estrada. “This case is yet another example of my office’s determination to root out public corruption and backroom deals that corrode our political system. We will continue to pursue politicians who violate their sacred oaths by placing their own desires ahead of their constituents’ needs.”

Galvan was arrested Sept. 18 by federal agents.

Also arrested was Yichang Bai, 50, of Arcadia, the owner and operator of W&F International Corp., a Diamond Bar-based import-export business and a consulting client of Galvan’s who allegedly helped orchestrate the bribery scheme.

Both defendants entered not guilty pleas during arraignment hearings Sept. 18 in Los Angeles federal court and were granted release on unsecured bonds. A tentative trial date of Nov. 14 was set.

“Today, the FBI arrested Isaac Galvan for allegedly using his position of power to bribe an elected city official in order to enrich himself and a client,” said Donald Alway, the assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office. “As these actions erode the public’s trust and harm the communities these officials were elected to serve, FBI Los Angeles will continue to investigate them and those individuals who enable their corrupt schemes.”

In June 2017, Baldwin Park began permitting the cultivation, manufacture and distribution of marijuana within its city limits. Soon afterward, then-Baldwin Park City Councilman Ricardo Pacheco, 60, began soliciting bribes from businesses seeking marijuana development agreements and related permits in the city, according to court documents. 

In exchange for the illicit payments, Pacheco agreed to use his position in city government to assist the companies with obtaining marijuana permits, including voting in their favor.

According to the indictment, Galvan first paid Pacheco a $10,000 bribe in August 2017 to secure Pacheco’s support for a future consulting client’s marijuana permit. Then, after securing W&F as a client, Galvan facilitated $70,000 in bribes from Bai to Pacheco. 

Pacheco served on the Baldwin Park City Council from 1997 until his resignation in June 2020, and he was the city’s mayor pro tem in 2018. Galvan allegedly paid the bribes in exchange for Pacheco’s political support of and promise to deliver Baldwin Park’s approval of marijuana permits for W&F. Pacheco then delivered, voting in favor of W&F’s marijuana permit and later voting in favor of W&F’s bid to relocate its operations.

Throughout the scheme, Galvan and Bai allegedly took steps to cover up their illegal payments to Pacheco by concealing Bai and W&F’s connection to the payments for Pacheco. For example, Bai collected checks from third parties who owed him money and then — at Galvan’s direction — gave Galvan the checks with blank payee lines. Galvan then gave the checks to Pacheco, who then arranged for them to be cashed, either by him or third parties.

“Mr. Galvan, a former Compton city councilman, and Mr. Bai are accused of undermining the process of fair and open competition when they by allegedly paying bribes to Baldwin Park City Councilman Ricardo Pacheco in exchange for securing marijuana permits for Mr. Bai’s corporation, W&F International,” said Tyler Hatcher, IRS criminal investigation special agent in charge of the Los Angeles Field Office. “City councilmen hold positions of trust. That trust is broken when these public officials commit crimes like bribery, but when they do IRS Criminal Investigation, and our law enforcement partners will be there to seek justice on behalf of the citizens.”

Galvan and Bai face a statutory maximum sentence of five years in federal prison for the conspiracy count, up to 10 years in federal prison for the bribery count and up to 20 years in federal prison for each honest services wire fraud count.

Galvan’s troubles extend beyond the indictment.

He is currently facing voter fraud charges for allegedly having non-Compton residents vote for him in the city’s 2020 general election.

In 2021, a civil trial overturned the election results, which removed him from office.

Emilie St. John is a freelance journalist covering the areas of Carson, Compton, Inglewood and Willowbrook. Send tips to her at

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