San Jacinto city councilmember among 2 men charged with running illegal pot dispensary

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Joel Lopez, left, and Edward Padilla Jr. are seen in booking photos released June 18, 2021, by the Riverside County District Attorney's Office.

Joel Lopez, left, and Edward Padilla Jr. are seen in booking photos released June 18, 2021, by the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office.

A sitting San Jacinto city councilmember and his associate were charged with running an unlicensed pot dispensary in the town in a grand jury indictment unsealed Friday, prosecutors said.

Joel Lopez, 35, one of five councilmembers representing the city, and 32-year-old Edward Padilla Jr. operated the Santa Fe Co-Op dispensary and were involved in stocking and selling products, hiring employees and running a delivery service, the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office said in a news release.

Lopez allegedly received the proceeds from illegal sales at the shop at 1190 S. San Jacinto Ave., also called Santa Fe Collective or simply Santa Fe.

The men are each facing two felony counts: maintaining a place for the purpose of unlawfully selling a controlled substance and conspiracy to commit misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance for sale.

They are also charged with misdemeanor counts of failure to file a sales and use tax return and operating without a seller’s permit.

Lopez was arrested last Thursday, June 10, and was released later that same day after posting bail, the DA’s office said.

Padilla was taken into custody Tuesday in Santa Ana and remained in custody Friday on $100,000 bail, officials said.

Padilla’s scheduled arraignment Friday was continued to June 22, while Lopez is scheduled to be arraigned in October, prosecutors said.

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