Riverside County Councilman indicted for alleged illegal cannabis sales

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RIVERSIDE (CNS) - San Jacinto City Councilman Joel Lopez and another man are under indictment for allegedly operating an illegal cannabis shop in the city, it was announced today.

  Lopez, 35, and Edward Padilla Jr., 32, of San Jacinto were indicted on felony counts of conspiracy and maintaining an unlawful marijuana facility, as well as misdemeanor counts of selling cannabis without a permit and failure to file a sales and use tax return with the state.

Lopez did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The councilman is free on bond, while Padilla is being held on $100,000 bail at the Smith Correctional Facility in Banning. He's slated to be arraigned Tuesday at the Riverside Hall of Justice.

According to the Riverside County District Attorney's Office, the defendants came under investigation in 2019 after evidence surfaced that they had allegedly been operating a cannabis shop, alternately called "Santa Fe Co- Op," "Santa Fe Collective" and "Santa Fe."

The pair also hired others to help run the illicit dispensary, located at 1190 S. San Jacinto Ave., according to prosecutors.

The indictment alleges the men "placed cannabis or THC products for sale in display cases," and that they "sold cannabis or THC products ... to members of the public," according to the DA's office.

A mobile delivery service was also utilized.

The amount of money collected from the operation was not disclosed and was also no word on when it was shut down.

Lopez was arrested on June 10 but posted bail the same day and was released. Padilla was taken into custody on Tuesday.

The councilman has no documented prior felony convictions in Riverside County. He was elected to his first term in November 2018.

Padilla also has no priors in the county.