Calexico City Manager David Dale issued a statement late in the afternoon May 21 in response to federal charges filed against Calexico Mayor Pro-Tem David Romero and former Economic and Financial Advisory Commissioner Bruno Suarez-Soto.
“The city became aware today by way of a news release from the Office of the United States Attorney for the Southern District of California that councilmember and Mayor Pro-Tem David Romero and former Economic and Financial Advisory Commissioner Bruno Suarez-Soto have been charged in federal court by the U.S. Attorney with conspiracy to commit federal program bribery in connection with alleged arrangements made between the two and an undercover FBI agent to secure a city permit for a cannabis dispensary in the city in exchange for a cash payment of $35,000. Mr. Suarez-Soto resigned his position of commissioner on April 22, 2020 citing residency issues.
“Mr. Romero and Mr. Suarez-Soto have since been arraigned before a U.S. Magistrate Judge in federal court. All the city knows is that which is contained in the U.S. Attorney’s news release and this is the city’s first notice of the investigation, alleged activity or charges.
“The city is committed to complete integrity and transparency in its governance and processes and does not condone, and strongly condemns, the kind of conduct alleged by the federal prosecutor. Accordingly, the city will cooperate with any follow-on inquiries or requests for information and assistance from either the U S. Attorney or the FBI. The city, through its counsel, has already reached out to the U.S. Attorney. At this early stage, however, the charges are just that, and the Mr. Romero and Mr. Suarez-Soto are presumed not guilty of the charges until guilt is proven in a court of law. That said, the city will take action to address these serious allegations which strike at the heart of city governance and integrity.
“First, the city is making efforts to determine whether any of its processes were affected by the arrangements described in the U.S. Attorney’s new release and the charging document. If so, the city will act immediately to ensure that those processes are corrected or abated pending outcome of the charges.
“Second, the city will have discussions with Mr. Romero concerning his continued participation in municipal governance during the pendency of these charges as a member of the council and mayor pro tem.
“Third, the city is not aware of any involvement of any other city employees, appointed commissioners or City Council members. If we are made aware, we will take appropriate action.
“Any inquiries regarding this matter should be directed to the federal officials conducting the investigation and prosecution.”