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By Brian Hews
Embattled Santa Fe Springs City Councilman Joseph Serrano, Sr. resigned from office Thursday night before a stunned and silent standing room only crowd.
In a tearful announcement during the city council meeting, Serrano said that he would be leaving office effective July 31st.
Serrano has agreed to plead guilty in connection to a major federal bribery case that involves the accepting thousands of dollars in cash bribes from the operator of a marijuana dispensary doing business in the tiny industrial community.
Los Cerritos Community Newspaper was the only media outlet to speak to Serrano immediately after resigning. “I am sorry for what happened. I am dealing with it. This is devastating for me and my family,” Serrano told LCCN.
Serrano confirmed that he found out about the indictment “sometime last week.”
Serrano, dressed in a white t-shirt, wearing a gray sports coat with his shoulder length hair gray hair slicked back, said that he could not talked about the “specifics” of his legal case, “due to terms of the plea agreement with the US Attorney’s Office.”
“By now many of you know about my situation with the US Attorney’s Office,” he said.
“My intentions were to never harm the residents and city of Santa Fe Springs for which I love so much,” Serrano said.
After choking back tears, Serrano said “this is a wonderful community that I have been proud to call my home for more than 60 years.”
“I’m saddened, embarrassed, and regretful, and angry at myself. I know that I must take responsibility for my actions,” Serrano said. “It has been a privilege and honor to serve this community for the past nine years. In my heart of heart I had hoped to do so for many years to come, but now I can only ask for your forgiveness.”
“I will look to the people who have supported me as a councilman for so many years and personal support as I enter the most challenging chapter of my life. I want to make it clear that the allegations that have been leveled against me are as a result of my doings, and mine alone,” he said.
“Unfortunately some will draw comparisons to the recent events in city of Cudahy. I deeply regret my actions and except responsibility.”
Serrano then stressed “please note that my colleagues on the city council and the city staff will always work to serve the people of this community in a matter that is beyond reproach,” he said.
Serrano immediately left the dais and walked into the offices of the city manager where he paused in an attempt to regain his composure. He then entered the lobby at City Hall and was greeted by well wishers, members of the Whittier Police Department, fire fighters, friends and family members.
Norwalk Mayor Pro-Tem Luigi Vernola and Councilman Mike Mendez also embraced Serrano in an emotional moment right before exiting city hall with his wife to an awaiting vehicle and drove away avoiding questions from other members of the media who followed him outside.
One longtime resident Jimmy Mendoza said it was “a sad day in the history of Santa Fe Springs.” “I am in a state of shock,” Mendoza told LCCN. The 37-year resident of the community, Mendoza said that there are “way too many pot shops in Santa Fe Springs, and they are becoming like the local corner candy store,” Mendoza said.
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