Rios drops City Council Bid, Still Charged With a Bunch of Felonies
By Jesse B. Gill
See, this here story’s the fourth.
And we apologize for what might come across as repetition. It’s just that the story of Mike Rios (who you may remember from last week’s installment) is a bit bigger than we could fit into our last post.
So our apologies on all the Moreno Valley stories, except to the people who live there. Okay? Great. Moving forward . . .
As it happens, Rios was in court pretty much all day Friday. He appeared for preliminary hearings in both of his felony cases. (By way of recap: in Case No. 1, Rios was charged with attempted murder and dissuading a witness. In Case No. 2, he was charged with six counts of pandering, three counts of pimpin’ and two counts of rape by force or fear).
The preliminary hearing is always something a reporter looks forward to because, in California’s criminal justice system, the “prelim” is usually the first place they’re going to hear testimony that gives the clearest picture yet on whatever the accused crime may be. (Not including certain court records which can sometimes spill the best beans before the prelim ever happens.)
First up Friday was Rios’ attempted murder case. The court heard testimony from a gentleman named Paul Gallo, whom, along with his brother-in-law, was involved in a scuffle with Rios at a Moreno Valley bar. That scuffle ended, according to Gallo, with Rios opening fire at him and his bro-in-law.
See, Gallos said, Rios shoved Gallo’s relative, a man named Chad Poindexter, after Poindexter (we just like saying that name . . . Poindexter!) was spittin’ some game at a lady on the dance floor, as one would do when giving a bar called Bahama Mama’s their patronage. And the bar’s bouncers wouldn’t do anything about it, which set Gallo and Poindexter quite at odds with the situation.
“I wanted to kick (Rios’) ass,” Gallo said, deadpanned, from the witness stand.
And so Gallo and Poindexter did what anyone would do in their situation. THEY PARKED AT A NEARBY SHELL STATION AND WAITED FOR THAT DUDE RIOS TO LEAVE THE BAR. Again, these are Gallo’s words, I’m not making this up.
And when Rios left the bar, Gallo and Poindexter did what any fine members of the community would do. THEY FOLLOWED HIM HOME.
Once there, Rios peeled out of his driveway in a big yellow Hummer (not that there’s such thing as a small yellow Hummer, mind you), the bros-in-law gave chase. They wound up losing sight of the huge, bright yellow SUV, so they decided to go back to Rios’ home, hoping he’d have returned.
And they were right because that’s exactly what he did.
They pulled up to the curb and Rios produced a handgun.
“He was holding it like he knew what to do with it,” Gallo said. “Like a cop.”
And that’s when Rios opened fire, he said.
Rios loosed four shots, perforating the Mitsubishi Lancer the bros-in-law drove. So they did what any sane citizen would do in their situation: THEY GOT THE HELL OUT OF DODGE.
They stopped a block away and inspected themselves for injuries. Not finding any, they headed home. They later patched up the car’s bullet holes with Bondo. But they never called police.
Why? Well, Gallo said it best when he answered that question in court.
“I just don’t do good with the cops,” was how he put it, verbatim.
Gallo’s got a record, and prosecutors brought that up before Rios’ attorney could in cross-examination. He was convicted of petty theft in 1994 before graduating to possession of meth for sale in 2004, a charge he’d again be found guilty of in 2008.
So he’s done prison time. He made that clear from the start.
And that’s why he didn’t call the cops that night. Figured it wouldn’t go his way, since he, you know, pretty much stalked a guy back to his home in the dark and everything.
And Gallo’s hasn’t charged with a crime, but that could very well have a lot to do with him being so willing to share his side of the story. We asked District Attorney spokesman John Hall if Gallo was granted leniency in exchange for his testimony and he said that was not the case.
A preliminary hearing ends when a judge decides whether or not the defendant should be held over for a full-blown trial. But that didn’t happen Friday and it won’t happen until at least next week because not long after Gallo finished testifying, Judge Christian F. Thierbach continued the hearing to Tuesday morning.
At Rios’ second preliminary hearing of the day, two female witnesses told of how Rios convinced them to work for him as prostitutes. Those witnesses weren’t identified in court by their full names, as they’re considered victims of a sex crime.
One of those women, 21, said Rios ran his prostitution business out his home in full view of his kids. The woman—who admitted to working as Rios’ prostitute with somewhere between five and 10 clients—claimed that she even cooked for his kids on a few occasions.
That woman said Rios approached her in a fancy car on the streets of Los Angeles and offered her the gig. The gig was simple: She would charge between $200-$250 for sex and he’d take half the cut, she said.
The second woman, 19, claimed to serve about 40 johns under roughly the same working agreement after Rios told her he was a politician by trade. She said she ended her professional affiliation with the man after he forced sex on her.
And there will be more to that story as well, since the clock ran out on Friday’s work day before the hearing was completed and them lawyers and judges and such do not work past 5 p.m. Well, at least not at the courthouse, anyway.
The preliminary hearing dealing with the pimpin’, pandering and rape charges will continue Monday afternoon.
And remember, all of this crazy testimony swirled around an elected school board member who, until today, was planning on running for Moreno Valley City Council.
He was so intent on running for council that he moved to a home on Pecan Place in Moreno Valley’s District 1, since that district’s council seat is one of three up for grabs in November.
And here’s the part where we were going to be all smart and tell you how Rios moved to the Pecan Place home just three days before he pulled papers last week to launch his City Council run. We were then gonna look in to the legality of that move and make it a whole thing, but . . . the fact is, it just doesn’t matter anymore.
Because now Rios—who has pleaded not guilty to all charges against him— says he’s not going to follow through with his 2012 council run after all.
It should be noted that Hall told us that deputy district attorneys will prosecute Rios the same way they would anyone else and whatever political aspirations he may or may not have do not play into the way they’ll handle the cases against him.
Rios said he started having second thoughts about the council run shortly after he “rented a room” at the Pecan Place address when Riverside County sheriff’s deputies started canvassing the neighborhood, telling residents “a sex offender” had moved in.
It was the guy with the yellow Hummer, he said they said.
And this pressure, genuine or fabricated, has dogged Rios enough to convince him to drop his plans to run for council, which may please those who backed him in 2010 for his victorious bid for a seat on the Moreno Valley Unified School District Board of Education, because at least now, he’ll stay for his full four-year term.
That is of course if the recall effort against him fails.
And there you have it. We’ll continue to follow Rios’ strange yet oddly fascinating saga, but at least for the next few weeks, this will be our last Moreno Valley story.
We promise (not really).
Check “The Watch Dog” by Jesse B. Gill every Friday for the latest (and greatest) behind-the-scenes crime coverage in the Inland Empire.