Former Moreno Valley city councilman sentenced in bribery case

Former Moreno Valley Councilman Marcelo Co sentenced to 60 months for accepting $2.36 million in bribes

Former Moreno Valley City Councilman Marcelo Co was sentenced Monday to 60 months in federal prison for accepting a $2.36-million cash bribe from an undercover agent.

Co, 64, pleaded guilty last year to bribery and filing a false corporate tax return. He was caught on video in January 2013 taking stacks of bills in what prosecutors believe is the largest bribe ever accepted by a public official in a sting operation.

In April 2013, when Co was still a council member, federal agents searched his home along with those of four other Moreno Valley council members, and the offices of a local developer as part of a broad public corruption investigation.

On Monday, representatives for the Riverside County district attorney and U.S. attorney said that investigation had closed. No charges were filed against the other search targets.

“The Moreno Valley corruption investigation has concluded, although we will revisit the matter if new information develops,” said Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office in Los Angeles.

John Hall, a spokesman for the Riverside County district attorney’s office, said the investigation had concluded but could be reopened if new information emerged.

News of the end of the investigation was first reported by the Riverside Press-Enterprise.

Co, who was elected in 2010, resigned his post in late 2013 after he was charged with grand theft and fraud in a separate case filed by the district attorney. That case remains pending, and a hearing is set for later this month, Hall said.

In the federal case against him, prosecutors said that in exchange for money, Co promised to get a majority of the City Council to vote to change the zoning on a 30-acre property he was selling. The change would significantly increase the value of the property, which had been appraised at $710,000.  

Co agreed to sell the property for $5.36 million, including a $2.36-million under-the-table cash payment, prosecutors said.

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