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Central Coast cannabis business owner sentenced to federal prison following years of bribery and tax scandals

SAN LUIS OBISPO COUNTY, Calif. – A Central Coast cannabis businessman was sentenced Friday to nearly two years in federal prison for bribing a government official and tax fraud.

The United States Department of Justice, or DOJ, sentenced Helios Raphael Dayspring, a.k.a. "Bobby Dayspring," 36, to federal prison for bribing a San Luis Obispo County Supervisor and filing false income tax returns for the benefit of his cannabis business.

"(Dayspring) had one goal: build a cannabis empire," said the prosecutors in a press release. "To accomplish that goal, he would not let anything get in his way, including the law."

The department said Friday that Dayspring was sentenced for paying the late San Luis Obispo County District 3 Supervisor, Adam Hill, about $32,000 in mostly cash bribes for the supervisor’s votes and influence on other votes affecting Dayspring's cannabis business interests.

United States District Judge André Birotte Jr. sentenced Dayspring to 22 months in federal prison.

In October of 2021, Dayspring pleaded guilty to one count of bribery and one count of subscribing to a false income tax return.

Dayspring owned, operated, and had a controlling interest in multiple cannabis farms in San Luis Obispo County, as well as public cannabis dispensaries – including the Natural Healing Center.

The department said that to further his interests in the cannabis farms, Dayspring began paying bribes to the late Hill in the fall of 2016 and continued doing so through November 2019.

Before Hill died in August of 2020, the supervisor was being investigated for misconduct claims that later reached a settlement with the victim. In March of 2020, his office was searched multiple times as part of an FBI investigation.

In total, the DOJ says Dayspring paid Hill multiple bribes in cash and money orders totaling $32,000.

The DOJ said that in exchange, Hill voted on matters affecting Dayspring’s farms, such as voting multiple times in favor of legislation that permitted Dayspring’s farms to operate before it obtained final permitting approvals.

In addition to bribing the county supervisor, the DOJ said Dayspring had a failed attempt to bribe the then-mayor of Grover Beach in exchange for two dispensary licenses in that city.

The DOJ said Dayspring offered to pay a $100,000 bribe during a dinner meeting in September 2017, but the mayor did not respond to the offer.

As for his illegal tax filings, the DOJ said Dayspring substantially underreported his personal income on his federal tax returns for the years 2014 through 2018, which resulted in the IRS losing more than $3.4 million in tax revenue.

The DOJ said in the 2018 tax year, Dayspring falsely reported his taxable income as $1,262,894, when in fact his income was greater than $6.5 million. 

Dayspring paid the IRS $3,438,793 in restitution, according to the Justice Department.

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Lily Dallow

Lily Dallow is a digital journalist and assignment editor at News Channel 3-12. To learn more about Lily, click here.

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