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Largest Bribe In History - $2.3 Million In Cash

Published On: Dec 24 2013 01:53:09 PM CST   Updated On: Nov 05 2013 03:17:18 PM CST
Marcelo Co

Former Member of Moreno Valley City Council Member Marcelo Co Agrees to Plead Guilty to Federal Bribery Charge for Taking $2.3 Million Cash Payment


A former Moreno Valley City Council Member has agreed to plead guilty to taking what is believed to be the largest bribe accepted by a public official - $2.3 Million in cash.

64 year old Marcelo Co was charged Tuesday morning in a Riverside court with on count of bribery and one count of filing a false corporate tax return.  In court documents Mr. Co agreed to plead guilty to the charges that could land him in federal prison for up to 13 years.

United States Attorney André Birotte Jr. says that Marcelo Co "orchestrated an elaborate and brazen scheme to undermine the democratic process in Moreno Valley."

Co was elected to the Moreno Valley City Council in November of 2010 and resigned this past August after charges in an unrelated welfare fraud case.

The investigation is a collaboration of several departments called the Inland Regional Corruption Task Force.  Included in that task force is the FBI, IRS, Riverside County District Attorney's Office and the United States Attorney's Office.

Court documents Tuesday detailed that Co told a local businessman and an undercover FBI agent that he could control the votes of the City Council and could guarantee decisions regarding land use would go in their favor.

Co received payments of $5,000 and $10,000 that he said would be used to finance other campaigns that would help him control the votes.

In 2012, Co met again with undercover agents to sell a 30 acre property that he owned.  He promised to change the zoning of the property to increase the value.  The property had been appraised at $710,000 but Co offered to sell the property for $5.36 million including a cash payment of $2.36 million.

In 2013 documents showed the property as selling for only $3 million, the extra $2.36 million going to Co in cash.

Co will be in court in December and is expected to enter his guilty pleas.