FOR­MER OF­FI­CIAL GETS 5 YEARS IN PRI­SON

Marcelo Co, who served on the Moreno Val­ley City Coun­cil, pleaded guilty to tak­ing a $2.36-mil­lion bribe from an agent.

Los Angeles Times - - THE STATE - By Paloma Esquivel paloma.esquivel@la­times.com Twit­ter: @Palo­maEsquivel

For­mer Moreno Val­ley City Coun­cil­man Marcelo Co has been sen­tenced to 60 months in fed­eral pri­son for ac­cept­ing a $2.36-mil­lion cash bribe from an un­der­cover agent.

Co, 64, pleaded guilty last year to bribery and fil­ing a false cor­po­rate tax re­turn.

He was caught on video in Jan­uary 2013 tak­ing stacks of bills in what pros­e­cu­tors be­lieve is the largest bribe ever ac­cepted by a public of­fi­cial in a sting op­er­a­tion.

In April 2013, when Co was still a coun­cil mem­ber, fed­eral agents searched his home — along with those of four other Moreno Val­ley coun­cil mem­bers and the of­fices of a lo­cal de­vel­oper — as part of a broad public cor­rup­tion in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

On Mon­day, rep­re­sen­ta­tives for the River­side County dis­trict at­tor­ney and U.S. at­tor­ney said that in­ves­ti­ga­tion had closed.

No charges were filed against the other search tar­gets.

“The Moreno Val­ley cor­rup­tion in­ves­ti­ga­tion has con­cluded, although we will re­visit the mat­ter if new in­for­ma­tion de­vel­ops,” said Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the U.S. at­tor­ney’s of­fice in Los An­ge­les.

News of the end of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion was first re­ported by the River­side Press-En­ter­prise.

Co, who was elected in 2010, re­signed his post in late 2013 af­ter he was charged with grand theft and fraud in a sep­a­rate case filed by the River­side County dis­trict at­tor­ney.

That case re­mains pending, and a hear­ing is set for later this month, spokesman John Hall said.

In the fed­eral case against Co, pros­e­cu­tors said that in ex­change for money given to an un­der­cover agent pos­ing as a real es­tate bro­ker, he had promised to get a ma­jor­ity of the City Coun­cil to vote to change the zon­ing on a 30-acre prop­erty he owned.

The change would sig­nif­i­cantly in­crease the value of the prop­erty, which had been ap­praised at $710,000.

Co agreed to sell the prop­erty for $5.36 mil­lion, in­clud­ing a $2.36-mil­lion un­der-the-ta­ble cash pay­ment, pros­e­cu­tors said.

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