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LAWSUIT: Mario Beltran Extorted Marijuana Businesses in Commerce, Alleges City Officials are Involved

 

BY BRIAN HEWS • September 30, 2020

A lawsuit obtained by HMG-CN is alleging that East Los Angeles political operative Mario Beltran has been demanding  kickbacks from businesses trying to open a marijuana dispensary in Commerce and that some city officials are participating in the extortion.

The lawsuit was filed by From the Earth, LLC and includes Beltran and the city of Commerce.

In an explosive accusation, the lawsuit stated, “the action is based upon the corrupt conduct of the city of Commerce illegally conspiring with convicted felon and disgraced former Bell City Councilman Mario Beltran to develop a plan in which each would profit off the issuance of licenses in the city of Commerce.”

As evidence, the lawsuit included an email conversation that was at first between the owner of From the Earth, LLC, Arion Jafari,  and Commerce’s “Commercial Cannabis Permit Team,” who are employees of Commerce.

The conversation began on November 24 when the team sent a developer agreement to Jafari. Jafari sent the signed agreement back November 28, and responded once again one hour later.

On November 30 the incriminating email was sent from the Cannabis Team back to Jafari with a salutation that included Jafari, another owner Kintu, and “Mario.”

The lawsuit alleges the Mario in the email is Mario Beltran and is evidence that he is working with the city in his illegal scheme.

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from the earth email

Email between the Commerce Cannabis Team and Jafari, in the circle is “Mario,” a name the lawsuit alleges is Mario Beltran and is clear evidence he is working with the city in his illegal kickback scheme.

 

 

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The scheme involved marijuana dispensaries first paying a license fee and providing all necessary information.

Dispensary owners would receive calls from Commerce representatives informing them that they made it to the final cut and that’s when Beltran would call, a strong indication that there was communication between Commerce employees and Beltran.

Beltran would inform the company that if they did not engage him as a lobbyist and pay kickbacks, Beltran would not allow the license to be approved.

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The email between From the Earth owner Kintu Patel and Mario Beltran, two days after From the Earth was approved for final review. Included with the email was Beltran’s kickback contract.

 

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In what could be a smoking gun, included in the lawsuit was Beltran’s extensive legal contract, which demanded a $50,000 payment, 10% ownership in the company if it was sold, and a $2,500 payment for an indefinite length of time.

 

 

 

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See contract click here

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Beltran threatened that if From the Earth did not return the contract in 24 hours the license would be pulled.

Days later, Jafari told Beltran they he would not participate in his illegal kickback scheme, and just a few days after that the Commerce Planning Commission subsequently pulled From the Earth’s license.

The lawsuit is asking for $400,000 from Commerce and Beltran along with punitive damages.

 

 

Commerce Councilmembers Ivan Altimirano and John Soria are good friends with Beltran, in fact they participated in a Cannabus to Las Vegas last year as exclusive reported by HMG-CN.

L.A. County Sheriff’s Employee & Commerce Mayor Sponsor Pot Bus to Las Vegas

Soria, who worked for the LA County Sheriff’s, was investigated for the trip and eventually left his job. He was hired by the city of Montebello months later.

Hews Media Article Results in a L.A. Sheriff’s Investigation of Commerce Mayor John Soria

 

 

cannabus

CANNA BUS: from (l-r) Mario Beltran, John Soria, and Commerce Council candidate Carlos Maravilla. Note Maravilla’s t-shirt has a pot leaf inside the Teamster’s logo.

 

 

 

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