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Cannabis retail shop founder charged with bribing SLO County supervisor

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Posted at 6:15 PM, Jul 28, 2021

The founder of the Natural Healing Center, a cannabis retailer with shops in Grover Beach and Morro Bay, has been charged in federal court with bribery and failing to report millions of dollars in income to the IRS.

Officials with the Department of Justice say Helios Raphael Dayspring, 35, has agreed to plead guilty to both felony charges, pay $3.4 million in restitution to the IRS, and cooperate in an ongoing government investigation.

According to his plea agreement, Dayspring admitted to bribing San Luis Obispo County District 3 Supervisor Adam Hill to further his cannabis businesses.

Dayspring reportedly started bribing Hill in the fall of 2016, paying him a total of $32,000 in cash and money orders. In exchange, federal prosecutors say Hill voted multiple times in favor of legislation that permitted Dayspring's cannabis farms to operate before he had obtained final permitting approvals.

Dayspring also admitted to trying to bribe the mayor of Grover Beach in 2017 in exchange for two dispensary licenses. John Shoals was the mayor at that time and reportedly did not respond to the $100,000 offer and Dayspring did not pay the bribe.

Federal officials say Dayspring also admitted to underreporting his personal income on his federal tax returns for four years, resulting in the IRS losing more than $3.4 million in tax revenue.

Dayspring is scheduled to make his first court appearance in this case in Los Angeles in August.

Once he officially pleads guilty to the charges, officials say Dayspring will face a maximum sentence of 13 years in federal prison.

This case is reportedly part of an ongoing public corruption investigation in San Luis Obispo County.

In March 2020, the FBI served a search warrant at the San Luis Obispo County Government Center.

When asked about the investigation at the time, Supervisor Hill said he could not comment except to say "we are cooperating fully with their inquiries."

Hill took his own life in August 2020.

Later that same month, Natural Healing Center announced Dayspring was stepping down as CEO "to devote his energy and attention to other personal avenues of opportunity."

Natural Healing Center also has a location in Lemoore and plans to add shops in San Luis Obispo and Turlock.

Federal officials ask anyone who has information related to this case or any other public corruption matter in San Luis Obispo County to email the FBI's tip line at pctips-losangeles@fbi.gov or call the FBI's Los Angeles Field Office at (310) 477-6565.