DA's office investigating 'all allegations of criminal activity' against Kern supervisors

FILE -- The Kern County Board of Supervisors meets Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2016. (KBAK/KBFX file photo) 

The Kern County District Attorney's Office confirmed Tuesday it's investigating "all allegations of criminal activity" involving the Kern County Board of Supervisors.

District Attorney Lisa Green said there have been a lot of allegations, including bribery and exploitation, and her office started its own investigation of the claims on Feb. 8.

This is a major development after about a month of claims of criminal activity swirling around the supervisors.

The main targets of the allegations are Supervisors Mike Maggard and Leticia Perez. At the center of the conflict is marijuana.

The allegations seem to have started in January after Maggard appeared on a local radio talk show. He accused Perez, her husband and others involved in the marijuana industry of fraud and collusion to kick him out of office.

One of the names he mentioned in his claim was David Abbasi, a cannabis advocate and former pot shop owner.

Abbasi then went to a board meeting last week and unleashed a slew of bribery claims against the board, mostly directed at Maggard and Perez.

"The preferential treatment for those who pay-to-play must stop," Abbasi said.

Abbasi told Eyewitness News he plans to take legal action against the city and county, claiming his pot shops were illegally closed and that members of the board are allegedly accepting bribes.

"Over the past years, I've been gathering evidence, emails, documents, text messages, audio and video recordings, that proves that what we have here are two supervisors feuding over which of their marijuana groups is going to do business in Kern," Abbasi told the board.

The individuals who Abbasi named in his claims denied all of the allegations.

These claims prompted the board to ask the Kern County counsel to look into what was being said.

At the meeting Tuesday, County Counsel Mark Nations reported his findings. Nations said he was unable to uncover any facts that support the serious claims.

"Based on what I have received today, I have concluded what is happening here is a concerted campaign to disseminate false and misleading information, in an effort to garner publicity, sow confusion, create mistrust and disunity, undermine confidence in local government and to intimidate public officials," Nations said.

He also said he believes the allegations made by Abbasi are potentially to give him an advantage in future litigation.

Abbasi said he disagrees with the findings of the county counsel, sticking to the claims he made. He declined to show evidence of his claims, stating "it will all play out in court."

At the Tuesday meeting, David Brust, co-founder of Bakersfield Residents Against Pot Shops, spoke before the board. He said the allegations need to undergo a criminal investigation in order to reveal the truth.

"We also believe the seriousness of allegations put forth in previous meetings of bribery, graft, conflict of interest and criminal activity has put a dark cloud over the Board of Supervisors in this county," Brust told the supervisors.

Brust said he has been doing his own investigation into the claims, putting in numerous public records requests.

"This investigation is simply to find out whether or not what Mr. Maggard is saying is true and what other people in the community are saying is true," he said.

Brust said, "It's all very questionable what's going on at the county," and he said he's thrilled to hear the DA's office is now investigating.

"If you're not being honest, and you're not being transparent, and you're trying to hide things, that's how these things start to evolve. It's like a volcano, and everything starts building up," he said.

Eyewitness News has put in public records requests regarding this matter and is waiting to get the documentation.

Maggard said, "I welcome any investigation by any authorities," and he "can't wait" for the DA to be involved.

Eyewitness News reached out to Perez and Nations for comment but have not heard back.

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