Marcelo Co, 64, a former Moreno Valley Councilman, was charged with bribery and submitting a false corporate tax return. Co plans to plead guilty to accepting a $2.36 million bribe from an undercover agent. Co allegedly accepted bribes in exchange for voting in favor of land-use decisions that would benefit a businessman and an undercover FBI agent posing as a real estate broker.
According to the federal complaint, Co met with a businessman, an FBI informant, and a real estate broker, who was an undercover operative with the FBI, to propose the sale of 30-acres of property he owned, promising he would use his voting "control" on the City Council to change the zoning of the property to increase the property's value. Co proposed a purchase price of $5.36 million for the property, which was appraised at $710,000, and said he would list it at $3 million sale price on public documents. Co also stated that he would accept $2.36 million in cash for the deal. He accepted the cash bribe in a meeting which was videotaped and photographed.
Co additionally took $15,000 in campaign contributions from the operatives, promising the money would be used to fund campaigns of council members who would vote with him on land use issues. The two charges filed against Co could send him to federal prison for 13 years.