School Board Member Convicted of Being a Straight-Up Pimp
By Jesse B. Gill
See, Rios, 42, was in court facing 26 felony counts, including pimping and pandering involving six female victims. Of course, the charges themselves weren’t terribly remarkable—similar charges are leveled against people all the time, particularly in the Inland Empire. What made Rios’ case so interesting was that he was a Moreno Valley school board member.
When he was first arrested, Rios was also a candidate for the Moreno Valley city council. Back in August, members of the Democratic Club of Moreno Valley told us Rios had serious political aspirations, at least locally, and that he only ran for school board after a previous city council run ended in defeat.
Early on in his pimping trial, Rios dropped out of the 2012 city council race. At the time of this writing, though, he remains a school board member, but it’s extremely unlikely that he’ll be able to serve the rest of his term (set to end in 2014), seeing as he was convicted on 23 of those 26 felonies he was charged with.
Rios originally faced 35 felony counts, but when his trial ended on Feb. 8, Judge Gary Tranbarger dismissed nine of the pandering counts.
Pandering is the term for the act of trying to convince a prostitute to work as a . . . you know . . . prostitute. Pimping is the term for actually making money from the, um, labor of prostitutes.
Rios was charged one count of pandering each for six different people; four adult women and two teenage girls. He was also accused of pimping three of the adult women, as one of the women and the two girls did not work for Rios as prostitutes, according to prosecutors. He was also charged with two counts of rape.
At the end of Rios’ trial, was found guilt of 12 counts of pimping, five counts of pandering and six counts of insurance fraud. The jury found Rios not guilty of one of the rape charges, hung on the second rape charge and hung on a pandering count involving one of the teenage girls.
Prosecutors say Rios used several different ways to try and convince the four women and two girls to work as prostitutes for him. In one case, they said he even used his status as an elected official to convince a woman to work for him after he asked her if she needed a job. He allegedly met one of the women and one of the girls through Internet ads. He also owns a Hummer and promised at least two of the females the use of the vehicle if they agreed to work as prostitutes for him, prosecutors say.
And we now know the jury believed prosecutors’ account.
Rios is back in custody. He’s set to be sentenced Friday. He faces up to 33 years in prison.
If he doesn’t resign before Friday, his stint as a school member will officially end with his sentencing. The Moreno Valley Board of Education will have 60 days to appoint someone to fill his seat. That appointee would serve the remainder of Rios’ term. The board could also hold a special election to find a new member, but that would come a price—at least $80,000.
Despite the end of Rios’ trial, his time in the courtroom isn’t quite over. He’s still got a few other pretty serious charges to fight. He was charged with two counts of attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon and influencing testimony with a bribe. These counts stem from a shooting in front of Rios’ Moreno Valley home—that allegedly came after some fisticuffs at a local bar. That case is yet to go to trial and likely won’t until at least late spring/early summer.
So there you have it, readers—the saga of Mike Rios—elected official, political hopeful, convicted pimp.