Beaumont councilman indicted on perjury and bribery charges, Riverside County D.A. says
A Beaumont city councilman was indicted Friday by a grand jury on charges of perjury and soliciting a bribe, according to the Riverside County district attorney’s office.
Mark Orozco was charged in a 10-count indictment alleging he falsely identified campaign funds in a Fair Political Practices Commission disclosure form, Dist. Atty. Mike Hestrin said in a statement. Orozco is set to surrender to authorities on May 25 at a Riverside courthouse.
The charges — nine counts of perjury and one count of soliciting a bribe — stem from a complaint made by the city of Beaumont, and were investigated by the district attorney’s Public Integrity Unit, Hestrin said.
“It was only with the partnership of the Beaumont officials that we were able to bring forth the indictment against Orozco,” Hestrin said in the statement. “It is important to hold our community leaders to the highest standards in our continued efforts to deter political corruption in our county.”
The district attorney’s office declined to disclose details about the charges because the indictment and grand jury proceedings will be sealed for 10 days.
Orozco was elected to the council in November 2014. His term is set to end in November 2018.
According to the city’s website, Orozco is a married father of four and has also served as Beaumont Unified School District board member. The Beaumont resident operates a public and governmental relations consulting firm, the website said. He also teaches U.S. history and government.
If Orozco is convicted, he faces up to 13 years in state prison.
According to Hestrin, the charges are unrelated to a pending criminal case involving seven former top Beaumont city officials, who are accused of an elaborate scam involving the sale of municipal bonds for projects handled by companies in which they had a financial interest. Prosecutors also alleged that officials secured interest-free loans for friends and colleagues with taxpayer money.
That scheme dates back more than two decades and cost taxpayers nearly $43 million, according to the district attorney’s office.
Beaumont Mayor Lloyd White said if the city receives a complaint about any elected or appointed officials, it is immediately reported to the appropriate agency.
“We have zero tolerance for any type of criminal or unethical behavior,” he said in an email. “Beaumont has made great strides over the past two years. We have achieved financial stability and are on our way to becoming a premier city. ”
The city is working to overcome its past problems by recently settling a major lawsuit with the Western Riverside Council of Governments that could have cost the city millions, White said. City officials have been working on a “fiscally responsible budget” that would add new staff and officers, he said.
“It is a shame that for a while now the focus will be back on negative issues,” White said. “However, as elected officials we swear solemn oaths to uphold the laws of our land. We also swear to protect the health, safety and welfare of the community in which we serve.”
4:15 p.m.: This article was updated with comments from White.
This article was originally published at 2:30 p.m.
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