The husband of Supervisor Leticia Perez appears to have asked for money to set up a meeting between his wife and a local marijuana dispensary group as supervisors were grappling with how to regulate marijuana in Kern County, according to a text message exchange obtained by The Californian.

The texts also appeared to show her husband — Fernando Jara — offered the marijuana group access to new rules proposed for the local marijuana industry that had not been made public. 

“If you guys are serious, I have the info,” Jara said in the message in May 2017, referring to draft rules on how the county could regulate marijuana. “I can only Hold so long as I have others waiting on it.”

The messages were between Jara and David Abbasi, a local medical marijuana dispensary owner and president of Central Valley Cannabis Association. 

Abbasi’s attorney Abraham Labbad provided screenshots of the text messages to The Californian.

Labbad said in an interview that Abbasi paid between $5,000-8,000 to Jara in early 2017 to advocate for his medical marijuana dispensary business, a deal that was eventually cut off when Abbasi became uncomfortable with the nature of Jara's work.

In July, the Kern County District Attorney’s Office charged Perez with two misdemeanors relating to conflicts of interest between her role as supervisor and the marijuana industry. The charges allege Perez used "her official position to influence a governmental decision in which she knew or had reason to know she had a financial interest." Perez cast the lone vote against a motion banning commercial cannabis in the county in October 2017. 

Perez pled not guilty to the charges.

A Kern County Superior Court judge, acting on behest of the DA, has issued a gag order, which prohibited all parties involved in the case from speaking about it outside of court.

Citing the gag order, Perez refused to comment for this story.

Jara could not be reached for comment and a phone number recently associated with Jara had been disconnected.

Abbasi also said he could not speak about the case because he was subject to the gag order.

Labbad said he had been exempted from the gag order.

The messages

At the time of the text message exchange, Jara did consultancy work through his firm Savage Communications.

“Fernando Jara has no experience in politics except that he could sell his wife’s vote,” Labbad said. “And apparently that in and of itself makes you a political consultant.”

Jara has previously claimed he did not take money for work in Kern County.

On March 19, 2017, Jara apparently sent a message to Abbasi saying his wife would like to have an “in-depth” conversation with his group about the local marijuana industry.

“If we are officially beginning, I would like to pick up my April fees today or tomorrow from the group,” Jara  wrote in the message. “So long as they are part of ‘your’ group, I will charge one price for everyone: 3000. Please let the members know this is ‘your’ rate. Individually the rate would be nearly 3x the am.”

At the time, the county was trying to come up with rules to regulate marijuana dispensaries since voters had passed an initiative that would soon legalize recreational marijuana sales in the state.

The board ultimately voted in October 2017 to institute a blanket ban on all dispensaries in the county. Perez was the only supervisor to vote against the ban. She later said she would abstain from all marijuana votes after being criticized for conflicts of interest.

The second text message exchanges seems to depict Jara offering to provide insight into what the county’s regulations could be, as long as he received his monthly fee.

“David, I have the first info on County regs for cultivation and dispensary,” he is shown to have said in a message to Abbasi.

Later in the message, he seems to have said, “Please have your group collect the remainder of my fees. The info will be out in the public in a few weeks. You guys will have to move fast.”

Abbasi then responded, saying he was hesitant to move forward without building permits and regulations.

The exchange is cut off with Abbasi and Jara discussing the location of Abbasi’s medical marijuana dispensary relative to the Boys and Girls Clubs.

“Okay. We need to talk soon…” is the last message from Jara provided in the screenshots of the text message exchange.

A pretrial hearing for the DA’s case against Perez has been scheduled for Oct. 5.

It is unknown if the text messages provided to The Californian are part of the DA’s case against Perez.

You can reach Sam Morgen at 661-395-7415 or smorgen@bakersfield.com. You may also follow him on Twitter @smorgenTBC.

(12) comments

mrdwm1

Sounds like the evidence here mainly concerns the behavior of the husband of a good local politician. Since husbands and wives are known to tell each other about their work, he probably did know about the workings of local govt, before it was publicized. HEY FERNANDO - why don't you go & get yourself a real job, & stop hanging on to your wife's skirt, and dragging her down into the sewer you've made for yourself?!

Ray Riley

The foremost question in my mind is... was she aware of this? I never havecared forherafter she tried to ditch Kern County in favor of a seat in Sacramento, only four months into her term...Power hungry.

SardonicWisdom

Judgmental much??

JimmyDude

I kind of love that the pot guys emoji is a pink donut.
And this is plainly corruption.

bpasqua

That there is a 'smoking gun' for the ages. Great job LIsa Green and DA staff! Looking forward to hearing the spin from the D.Huerta bully camp. One would hope she would humbly step down... but this is Liberal...so don't we woun't hold our collective breath.

Melissa

This is exactly why the Government Should Not have allowed municipalities (cities)
Decide weather or not to let medical marijuana in to their cities, it brings out the Greed in public officials like you read about here..As well as the members sitting on the Kern County Board Of Supervisors Not Having A Real Grip On Medical Marijuana CBD and all the other terms definitions and their meanings , which means they are Not Qualified to make a life changing decision on Medical Marijuana for an Entire County Of People !!” Knowledge Is Power”; Please get some today !!
Cannabis is set to be taken down from the #1 spot on the FDA drug list, thanks to an FDA aproved drug for childhood seizures ! Studies show Great medical promise for people how the medical community has not been able to help.ll you need to go,do Google Cannabis and Cancer or Cannabis Medical Values for yourself .
The vote is coming in Nov. to finally allow the people of Kern have safe access and Kern County To,Get Much Needed Tax Flow Money To Help the county recover from Financial Ruin ! Why tax people an extra 1% !???
Don’t vote for the 1% tax that all people will have to pay !!! VOTE Medical Marijuana in in Nov. let the people who need Medical marijuana pay the taxes which will bring in Much More Revenue To Kern County for New Police Force Members , Fire Department And Schools !! Let’s be Smart Kern County ...Get the Facts ...
Vote Medical marijuana Yes !!! Vote yes 6 no more gas tax ...No on 1% SLes Tax Raise ....thank you 🌱💚

Vico17

Now the sheeple who walked with her to work and manipulated by Dolores Huerta should feel as dumb as they truly are.

Concerncitizen

Well it seems there is a lot of substance to the charges against Perez. She needs to resign as a BOS. Great job KC DA!

REMUDA

Oh yes . . . and let us not forget the recent 'gerrymandered' districts to foster an 'ethnic balance' . . .

REMUDA

Lisa Green is solid. Marijuana has a darker history than ever in Kern County as all involved can attest. Perhaps that's the reasoning behind the controversies at the BOS level as well as other agencies. Must be a reason the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA--including medical) still exists . . . above state, county and municiple codes . . . beyond the $$'s. BTW, it is still considered "mind altering" (toxic) . . . a lurking hazard for all circumstances . . . as all of us have witnessed . . . and more perverse than alcohol. 'Toxic' = 'poison'. (mind and body)

Concerned Citizen of Bakersfield

Looking forward to both these scum bags going to jail along with all these dirty cops

Quick

They’re two misdemeanors. She’ll do less than six months, if any jail time at all. My guess is she’ll get probation.

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