Records: Calif. politician to plead guilty to bribery
Marcelo Co / ABC News
A former California councilman has agreed to plead guilty to bribery
after accepting $2.3 million in what is believed to be the largest bribe
ever taken by a U.S. politician in an undercover sting, authorities
Ex-Moreno Valley City Councilman Marcelo Co, 64, will plead guilty to
one count each of bribery and filing a false tax return, according to
court records. He could faces up to 13 years in prison and will make his
first court appearance next month.
A message left for Co's attorney, Brian Newman, was not immediately returned.
Authorities said Co promised an undercover FBI operative who posed as a
real estate broker that he could control a voting majority of the
council to sway land use decisions.
Records show that Co eventually agreed to sell a 30-acre parcel he owned
to the operative for $5.3 million. The land was only appraised at
$710,000, but Co said once zoning laws were changed by the council the
parcel would increase in value 500 percent, court documents say.
"Mr. Co orchestrated an elaborate and brazen scheme to undermine the
democratic process in Moreno Valley," said U.S. Attorney André Birotte
Jr. "Whether he was motivated by power or greed, these crimes constitute
a wholesale violation of his oath to work for the citizens who elected
Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office, said the bribe
is believed to be the largest taken by a public official in an
At a meeting in January, Co and the operative met and agreed that
publicly filed documents would reflect a $3 million sales price for Co's
land. Authorities said Co then took $2.3 million in cash
A grainy surveillance photo released by federal investigators shows a large stack of money on a table in front of Co.
Co was elected to the council in November 2010 and resigned from his
seat in August after being charged in state court in an unrelated
welfare fraud case.
Moreno Valley is about 60 miles east of Los Angeles.
Thursday, February 20 2014 7:42 PM EST2014-02-21 00:42:09 GMT
Behind the glory of football there are the scars and bruises. Some visible, some not. We still have much to learn about the health risk football puts on it's players, but some of the biggest strides inMore >>
Behind the glory of football there are the scars and bruises, some visible, some not. We still have much to learn about the health risk football puts on it's players, but some of the biggest strides in research are happening on South Dakota's fields.More >>
Tuesday, March 11 2014 2:30 PM EDT2014-03-11 18:30:46 GMT
Marie Eidem disinfects her home dialysis kit for her acute kidney failure
An estimated 20 Million Americans are living with some form of chronic kidney disease. Without functioning kidneys your blood slowly becomes toxic. The ideal solution is a transplant but while they wait,More >>
The ideal solution for chronic kidney failure is a kidney transplant but while they wait, all patients go on dialysis. It's a life changing diagnosis but this blood filtering process is becoming less restrictive.More >>
Tuesday, March 11 2014 1:02 PM EDT2014-03-11 17:02:18 GMT
The Spearfish Police Department needs help finding 26-year-old Robert Keith Johnson.He was last scene on Friday around 10:00 p.m. at his Spearfish home. When he left, he was wearing jeans, a green jacket,More >>
He was last scene on Friday around 10:00 p.m. at his Spearfish home. When he left, he was wearing jeans, a green jacket, a white long-sleeve undershirt, and tan slippers.More >>