LOS ANGELES – A San Luis Obispo man agreed to plead guilty to charges that he bribed a SLO County supervisor in order to influence votes affecting his cannabis business.
35-year-old Helios Raphael "Bobby" Dayspring was charged in federal court with one count of bribery and one count of underreporting millions in federal tax income to the IRS, according to the US Department of Justice.
Dayspring admitted to both felonies and was ordered to pay $3.4 million in restitution to the IRS. He also agreed to cooperate with an ongoing corruption investigation.
Dayspring owned and operated – or had controlling interest – in several cannabis grows in San Luis Obispo County. He also had ownership ties to businesses that sold cannabis to the public, the DOJ said.
The Justice Department said Dayspring paid bribes to an unnamed San Luis Obispo County Supervisor for the Third District in the fall of 2016 through November 2019. The county commissioner was paid in money orders and cash totaling more than $30,000. In exchange, the commissioner voted multiple times for legislation that benefited Dayspring's business interests.
Although not named in the release from the Justice Department, former San Luis Obispo County commissioner Adam Hill represented the third district during the alleged timeline. In March 2020, Hill had mentioned that he was cooperating with an investigation by the FBI and the SLO County Government Center was raided by investigators. Hill died several months later in August 2020. His death was ruled a suicide.
In addition to Hill, Dayspring also admitted to attempting to bribe John Shoals, the then-mayor of Grover Beach in September 2017. During a dinner meeting, Dayspring attempted to pay Shoals $100,000 in exchange for two cannabis dispensary licenses in the city. The bribe was rejected by Shoals and no money was exchanged, according to the DOJ. Shoals is not named directly in the release.
In addition to bribery schemes, Dayspring admitted to underreporting his income on federal tax returns for several years. In total, he avoided paying more than $3.4 million in tax revenue.
As part of his plea, Dayspring agreed to cooperate with what the DOJ is calling an "ongoing public corruption investigation" in San Luis Obispo County.
Dayspring is the founder of Natural Healing Center, a SLO County-based cannabis operation company with several retail locations along the Central Coast.
Natural Healing Center announced in an August 2020 news release that Dayspring would "step down" as CEO of the company. The release made no mention of any impending investigation or charges.
According to its website, the company is still planning on opening two new dispensaries in San Luis Obispo and Turlock. In previous reporting from NewsChannel 3-12, the company was identified as the entity looking to transform Orcutt's Old Town Market into a retail cannabis storefront. Due to legal challenges, the license needed to open a cannabis shop in the iconic market was being reviewed by the county. The status of that review is unclear.
Dayspring is set to appear in United States District Court in Los Angeles on August 25. He faces a maximum sentence of 13 years in federal prison.