#californiacannabis – “Longtime Democratic leader and cannabis consultant Melahat Rafiei on Thursday confirmed she is the FBI’s prime cooperating witness in a corruption investigation that has focused on Anaheim Mayor Harry Sidhu, among others, and led to federal charges against Anaheim Chamber of Commerce CEO Todd Ament…..
Rafiei, who is a member of the Democratic National Committee and involved in campaigns for a number of prominent candidates, told the Register she’s been cooperating with the FBI in an investigation focused on corruption in Anaheim since 2019. She was arrested then on charges of “theft or bribery” involving federal funds related to a cannabis scheme — allegations she denies and that subsequently have been dismissed without prejudice, which means they could be filed again later….
As a cooperating witness Rafiei used recording devices from the FBI to tape evidence that is now key to the charges brought against Ament. And Ament’s eventual cooperation has led to evidence that the FBI says indicates Sidhu shared confidential information with Angels Baseball, during a time when the city was negotiating the stadium deal, in the hope that he would receive campaign contributions in return. Court records also allege that Sidhu concealed and possibly destroyed evidence, tampered with a witness and committed fraud to avoid paying taxes on a helicopter he purchased….
The affidavit also links key events in Anaheim to the cannabis industry.
Documents lay out a plan where the Chamber, under Ament, had created a “cannabis task force” to explore allowing cannabis businesses to come to Anaheim. But federal authorities allege in court documents that the task force was just a way for Ament, with help from an unnamed political consultant, to get money from cannabis businesses under the false pretense of using the funds to advocate for the industry. Instead, the investigation says the political consultant helped Ament “defraud” a cannabis company and “embezzle” those funds for his personal use.”