Amid Criminal Inquiry, Temecula Bail Bondsman's Cannabis Store OK'd

June 27, 2024 0 By JohnValbyNation

FRENCH VALLEY, CA — A Temecula bail bondsman, who is currently facing multiple felony charges of perjury and preparing false records, received a green light to move ahead on a proposed cannabis retail outlet near the north end of French Valley Airport.

Following a brief public hearing, the Riverside County Board of Supervisors voted 5-0 in favor of a conditional use permit and development agreement for Fausto Atilano’s proposed store. The shop is slated for a 2,658-square-foot space within the Boreal Airpark Center, near the intersection of Auld Road and Sky Canyon Drive.

There was no public opposition to the proposal.

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Atilano is the owner of Fausto’s Bail Bonds, which touts locations across Southern California, including one at the corner of Auld and Winchester roads, near the Southwest Detention Center in French Valley.

The proposed retail outlet “complies with minimum standard requirements, and there is no anticipation that the use will be detrimental to the public health, safety or general welfare,” according to a Transportation & Land Management Agency statement posted to the board’s agenda.

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The outlet’s hours of operation will be from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week, with a mobile delivery service available between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m. daily.

TLMA officials said that the business will employ 25 people, including full-time security personnel. Staff will fill two shifts, with approximately five employees on hand each shift.

Under the 10-year conditional use permit and development agreement approved by the board, Atilano will be required to make a first-year public benefits payment to the county totaling $52,844. An ongoing annual payment of $77,600 will also be owed, increased 5% every year.

The public benefit payments are intended to offset the costs to the county of providing additional law enforcement, street maintenance and other services in and around a site.

On June 2, 2023, the state announced that Atilano, now 61 years old, was arrested on charges of falsifying records and perjury.

The arrest came after a state Department of Insurance investigation found Atilano allegedly submitted fraudulent bail bond exoneration motions to Riverside County courts. The alleged phony exoneration motions showed that Atilano tracked down fugitives in Mexico, but multiple county defendants were interviewed and claimed they weren’t in Mexico.

The investigation alleged Atilano used cooperating local officials in Mexico and look-alike subjects to pose for photographs and complete fraudulent documentation certifying a fugitive was found in a Mexican detention facility. As a result of the alleged scheme, the bonds were exonerated by the courts and Atilano was no longer responsible for paying them.

Each exoneration resulted in a loss of thousands or tens of thousands of dollars to Riverside County, according to the Department of Insurance.

Atilano’s license was previously restricted from October 10, 2017, through July 8, 2021, for a prior Department action, which prohibited him from conducting any fugitive recovery actions during that period, the state agency said.

Atilano was formally charged with 14 felonies in the case that is being prosecuted by the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office. He is currently free on $529,000 bail and is scheduled for an Aug. 23 preliminary hearing. He has no felony convictions in Riverside County, according to court records.

“Pursuant to the County’s ordinance regulating commercial cannabis activities, permits will not be granted to operators who have been convicted of serious or violent felonies. This applicant does not fall into that category,” an emailed statement from the county read.

Atilano’s cannabis project approval is the latest in a string. Since 2020, the board of supervisors has granted over two dozen conditional use permits for cannabis businesses in unincorporated communities, seven of which have opened their doors. Operations have been authorized in Bermuda Dunes, Coronita, East Hemet, Green Acres, Highgrove, Lakeland Village, Mead Valley, Temescal Valley, Thousand Palms and Winchester.

Three proposed outlets have been rejected by the board in the last two years. All of the denials were related to compatibility with surroundings.

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