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Ex-councilman to plead guilty in record California bribery case

A California bribery conviction can result in up to four years of prison time, fines, restitution and, for public officials, the permanent loss of an appointed or elected office. Criminal defense attorneys know the stakes are very high for Los Angeles defendants, which is why early, thorough, skilful legal representation is vital.

Bribery is a two-way crime. A bribe giver and recipient both may be found guilty. A bribe doesn't have to be paid. Charges can be filed when a bribery transaction simply is inferred. Prosecutors have the burden of proving a defendant's "corrupt intent." Without convincing evidence of corruption, the case against a defendant can disintegrate.

The reputation of a 64-year-old ex-councilman from Moreno Valley is in tatters, after being hit with charges of fraud and bribery. The charges apply to separate alleged incidents. The former public official is accused of stealing over $14,000 in government benefits meant for his mother, a charge for which he recently pleaded not guilty.

At the same time, the embattled former public official is facing corruption accusations. The man allegedly took more than $2.3 million in a land deal with an undercover agent posing as a real estate broker.

Prosecutors said the ex-councilman cemented a deal with the agent for the sale of a $5.36 million property. The bribe was the difference between the true sale price and a proposed, publicly-filed price. The defendant reportedly said he would use his influence with city council members to rezone the land in the broker and buyer's favor.

The defendant is planning to plead guilty to two counts - filing a fraudulent tax return and bribery. As part of a plea deal, the defendant has offered to cooperate with authorities, who are investigating the activities of several Moreno Valley city council members.

Negotiations with prosecutors can reduce charges or lighten a sentence, when prosecutorial bribery evidence is too strong to overcome.

Source:  losangeles.cbslocal.com, "Former Moreno Valley Councilman Pleads Not Guilty To Welfare Fraud" No author given, Nov. 13, 2013

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