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Cannabis grower Helios Dayspring and Tepusquet Canyon residents, who oppose his area operation, look at Santa Barbara County 5th District Supervisor Steve Lavagnino, who asked Dayspring a question during public comment at a Nov. 14, 2017, meeting. County supervisors were considering how to respond to state cannabis licensing information requests during a hearing in Santa Maria.

The owner of a Central Coast cannabis dispensary on July 28 agreed to plead guilty to federal charges after he reportedly evaded taxes and bribed a former San Luis Obispo County supervisor with more than $30,000 in exchange for favorable votes affecting his business. 

Helios "Bobby" Dayspring, 35, agreed to plead guilty to one count of bribery and one count of filing a false tax return for failing to report millions of dollars in income to the Internal Revenue Service, according to an agreement filed July 28 in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. 

Dayspring now faces up to 13 years in federal prison. 

The agreement came on the same day in which federal prosecutors filed the charges against Helios, who owns Natural Healing Center, which has several locations on the Central Coast including in Grover Beach, Morro Bay and San Luis Obispo. Dayspring in April 2020 purchased the Old Town Market in Orcutt and intended to locate a dispensary at the location, although his Santa Barbara County application never made the final cut. 

He is scheduled to make his first appearance in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles on Aug. 25, when he is also expected to enter his plea, according to U.S. Attorney spokesman Thom Mrozek. 

The charges originate from fall of 2016 to November 2019, when Dayspring allegedly began paying bribes totaling approximately $32,000 in the form of cash and money orders to Adam Hill, the late San Luis Obispo County 3rd District supervisor, for votes and influence affecting his business, which sold cannabis products to the public and included farms that grew cannabis in San Luis Obispo County. 

In exchange, the supervisor voted on matters affecting Dayspring’s farms, including voting multiple times in favor of legislation that permitted Dayspring’s farms to operate before he had obtained final permitting approvals, court documents show. 

During a March 29, 2019, supervisors' meeting, Hill allegedly texted Dayspring on his efforts to prevent other supervisors from voting against outdoor cannabis cultivation. 

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"[I] had to keep these f---ers from going beyond and it is exhausting," Hill texted Dayspring, referring to his colleagues, according to the plea agreement. "Where's the industry [financial] support for my reelection?"

Hill died Aug. 6, 2020. His death was widely reported as a suicide in October 2020. 

In another instance, Dayspring and a business associate attempted to bribe a former mayor of Grover Beach with $100,000 in exchange for two dispensary permits in the city during a dinner meeting in September 2017, but the mayor did not take the bribe, according to the plea agreement. 

In addition, Dayspring also allegedly admitted that he underreported $3.4 million in personal income on his federal tax returns between 2014 and 2018, which he also agreed to pay in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service.

The FBI and IRS investigated the case, which is part of an ongoing public corruption investigation in San Luis Obispo County, according to Mrozek. 

Any member of the public who has information related to the case or any other public corruption matter in San Luis Obispo County is encouraged to send information to the FBI’s email tip line at pctips-losangeles@fbi.gov or to contact the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office at 310-477-6565.

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