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Ex-Moreno Valley councilman sentenced in $2 million sting

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POSTED June 1, 2015 8:28 p.m.

RIVERSIDE (AP) — A former Moreno Valley city councilman was sentenced to five years in federal prison on Monday for accepting more than $2 million bribes during a sting operation but no charges will be filed in an unrelated corruption investigation involving the entire council, it was reported.

Marcelo Co, 64, was sentenced after pleading guilty last year to bribery and filing a false corporate tax return.

Co acknowledged that he accepted $2.36 million from an FBI agent posing as a real estate broker.

In return for the cash, Co promised to guarantee beneficial land use votes by the council majority, federal prosecutors said.

Co was elected to the City Council in 2010 and resigned in 2013.

His sentence was unrelated to a wider probe of the City Council. In April 2013, a task force of federal and local agents raided the homes of then-Mayor Tom Owings, Co and all three other council members and a real estate agent. They also raided a developer’s office near City Hall.

The agents seized computers and other items. At the time, an investigator with the Riverside County district attorney’s office said the raids involved a criminal investigation of possible influence-peddling, campaign violations and political corruption.

On Monday, federal and local authorities told the Riverside Press-Enterprise (http://bit.ly/1daLq3e) that they had completed their investigations and wouldn’t be filing any criminal charges.

John Hall, a spokesman for the DA’s office, declined to elaborate on the decision or specify what evidence investigators had sought.

“We would, however, look further into this should any new information be provided to us,” John Hall, a spokesman for the DA’s office, said in an email.

“I had no fear that I would be charged because I didn’t do anything wrong,” Owings told the newspaper. “I didn’t even retain an attorney.”

 

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