Rise in bribery cases in California’s cannabis industry

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SACRAMENTO — Sheriff Jon Lopey was startled when a stranger offered him $1 million if he would keep deputies away from certain illegal cannabis farms in Siskiyou County.

Lopey called in the FBI, and, later, deliveries of envelopes stuffed with thousands of dollars in cash were recorded by cameras and microphones hidden on the sheriff’s cluttered, wooden desk.

Two people were later indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of attempting to bribe the elected sheriff.

“I was surprised and offended that a citizen would believe a law enforcement administrator would compromise his ethics and morals by accepting money,” said Lopey, whose rural county abuts the Oregon border and outlaws outdoor marijuana farms.

In the more than two years since California voters approved the licensed growing and sale of

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