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Press Release

Bay Area Men Plead Guilty to Bribing a Vallejo City Official

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of California

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Steven Chu, 41, of San Bruno, and Ben Guan, 36, of San Francisco, pleaded guilty today to conspiracy to commit federal program bribery, U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced.

According to court documents, Chu and Guan ran an illegal marijuana cultivation 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 then paid 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. Unbeknownst to Chu and Guan, the building inspector was working with law enforcement to record meetings with them.

This case is a product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Thuesen is prosecuting the case.

U.S. District Judge Daniel J. Calabretta is scheduled to sentence Chu and Guan on May 2, 2024. They face a sentence of up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the court’s discretion after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.

Updated January 11, 2024

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