August 9, 2022

County review says bribes from cannabis grower likely impacted two board decisions

County reports findings of review

–The County of San Luis Obispo recently became aware of the federal charges against Helios Dayspring, and the plea agreement he made with the United State Attorney’s Office. In the plea agreement, Dayspring admits to federal tax evasion and bribing former Supervisor Adam Hill in an attempt to influence Hill’s decisions regarding cannabis legislation and cannabis permits involving Dayspring’s projects. Dayspring was arraigned in Federal Court on Aug. 25, and a date has yet to be set for him to formally enter his guilty plea.

County Supervisor Adam Hill hospitalized
Former County Supervisor Adam Hill

When the county learned of this news, administrators put a hold on all of Dayspring’s cannabis permits and began a review of all cannabis legislation and land use permits which could be called into question because of former Supervisor Hill’s actions or votes.

The county has now completed that review which included reviewing each legislative action of the board related to cannabis, including a review of the minutes and the final vote by the board. Similarly, the county has compiled each cannabis project that Dayspring was involved in at the county to determine whether Supervisor Hill participated in any approvals for those projects.

The county’s review uncovered two decisions that may have been affected due to the bribes Dayspring admits giving Supervisor Hill. Both decisions passed by a 3-2 vote where former Supervisor Hill was an affirmative vote. One such vote was on Dec. 17, 2019, to place an item on the Jan. 14, 2020 agenda. And the other was the vote on that item on Jan. 14, 2020. That item was to extend the abeyance resolution, or the temporary hold on enforcement of cannabis regulations on certain operators who registered with the county, until June of 2020. That decision allowed some of the 141 original cannabis operators who registered with the county to continue operating while they were working their way through the land use permit process. Dayspring was attached to three of those applications, two of which benefited from the abeyance extension. The abeyance County of San Luis Obispo Government Center Resolution expired in June of 2020 making any needed corrective action on this matter moot, according to the county.

Other votes by the board that arguably could be considered beneficial to Dayspring either did not pass, or passed by 4-0/5-0 votes with either Supervisor Compton absent or former Supervisor Hill deceased for the decision.

As far as current cannabis projects involving Dayspring in the county, all business licenses which include Dayspring as an identified owner of the business have been denied by the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office. Any new owners of those projects must submit new applications with the county and new background checks will need to be performed. The sheriff’s office will review any new owners and carefully evaluate any individuals who have a history of doing business with Dayspring.