Former State Employee Sentenced to 12 months in Prison for Role in $2 Million Scheme to Defraud the Office of AIDS
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A federal grand jury returned a two-count indictment today against Steven Chu, 40, of San Bruno, and Ben Guan, 35, of San Francisco, charging each with one count of conspiracy to commit federal program bribery and one count of federal program bribery, U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced.
According to court documents, Chu and Guan ran an illegal marijuana grow operation in Vallejo. In July 2020, Chu and Guan were notified that the building in which they maintained the operation was in violation of multiple laws, including city codes related to illegal drug activity, and that the city would take legal or administrative action if the violations were not corrected. Subsequently, Chu and Guan offered to pay and paid bribes to a Vallejo building inspector to clear the violations and ensure the city would not interfere with their operation. Chu and Guan paid the building inspector on at least six occasions. The payments totaled approximately $27,000.
This case is the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Thuesen is prosecuting the case.
If convicted, Chu and Guan each face a maximum statutory penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine on the conspiracy charge and 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on the bribery charge. Any sentence, however, would be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables. The charges are only allegations; the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.