FBI Raids Point to Possible Corruption in Moreno Valley

By Jesse B. Gill

Posted May 14, 2013 in Web Only
The Watch Dog Crime Blog LogoIt’s been two weeks since the FBI descended on the city and raided the mayor’s house, the homes of four other city council members and a huge warehouse. And since that time, the FBI hasn’t anything about why they searched those locations or what they were hoping to find in the first place.

On April 30, FBI and Internal Revenue Service agents served search warrants at the homes of Mayor Tom Owings along with the homes of council members Victoria Baca, Marcelo Co, Jesse Molina and Richard Stewart. Agents also raided the corporate offices of Highland Fairview Developers and Realtor Jerry Stephens.

What were the agents looking for? Who do they have in their crosshairs? The answer to those questions lie at the terminus of a very open-ended ellipsis, as the warrants (both federal and state) are sealed.

“There are no updates, obviously,” said FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller. “Our investigation is pending. We’re seeking evidence based on accusations of wrongdoing.”

Those spokes-folks . . . they shure know how to give an answer without actually giving an answer, don’t they? And if the public expects some kind of answer on what the FBI was doing in town, it might have to wait . . . a really long time.

Eimiller said the FBI will likely only make a public announcement about the raids if the agency makes an arrest . . . or arrests. And since it’s possible (though kind of unlikely) that they may not arrest anyone, we may never know what the feds were looking for.

But gauging by the track record of the people running the investigations, it’s a good bet that someone will wind up in handcuffs over this sooner rather than later. The Los Angeles Times’ Phil Willon reports a corruption task force brought together in 2010 is behind the probe in Moreno Valley. And that same team handled investigations that nailed some pretty big fish to the wall, including former San Bernardino County Supervisor Paul Biane and former Upland Mayor John Pomierski.

Based on complaints filed with the state’s attorney general, the investigation may be peering into the relationships Owings and the council members have with a real estate developer Iddo Benzeevi, the guy behind the city’s new Skechers distribution center.

A pair of Moreno Valley residents filed the complaints more than a year ago, alleging that Benzeevi bought influence on the council, and paid hundreds of thousands of dollars into the city’s elections to ensure council members would vote in his favor, including with the Skechers project. Benzeevi has denied these claims.

If you’ve driven through Moreno Valley any time in the last 10 years, you’ll remember seeing Jerry Stephens’ name from his many dangly realtor signs posted all over the city. It’s not clear yet what, if any, connection Stephens has to the investigations.

And now, just weeks after the raids, the City Council could be looking to fire City Manager Henry Garcia. The agenda for Tuesday’s council meeting includes an item for a closed-session meeting to discuss Garcia’s job performance. Garcia is entitled to regular reviews just like anyone else. But timing suggests that’s not what this is. And when was the last time you were called in for a performance review just out of the blue? Historically, these things do not end well.

Not a great time to be an elected official in Moreno Valley. Between this FBI investigation and pimpin‘ school members, Moreno Valley may soon be looking at some housecleaning when it comes to its public servants.

But for now, stay tuned. We have a feeling this is gonna get good.

Contact Jesse B. Gill at thewatchdog@ieweekly.com or follow him on Twitter @IEW_WatchDog.




    To be clear on the topic of corruption:
    The fbi/cia & company (traitorous assassins all) have ruined our nation and now threaten all the world. See the following statements from Cicero where he captures the essence of a universal truth regarding the destructive power of traitors (brackets and the contents therein are mine).

    Marcus Tullius Cicero

    “A nation … cannot survive treason from within…the traitor moves amongst those within the gate freely, his sly whispers rustling through all the alleys, heard in the very halls of government itself [in congress, the courts, the executive offices]. For the traitor appears not a traitor; he speaks in accents familiar to his victims, and he wears their face and their arguments, he appeals to the baseness that lies deep in the hearts of all men. He rots the soul of a nation, he works secretly and unknown in the night to undermine the pillars of the [nation], he infects the body politic so that it can no longer resist. A murderer is less to fear.”





    1) The fbi are traitors; a murderer is less to fear.


    2)Last night the fbi interrupted my use of the UT library computer with a message from the fbi’s cybercrime division with threats of prosecution for vioations of multiple federal criminal statutes. I violated no law and I showed the fbi’s message to the librarian on duty. Now this:

    3)The fbi and their operatives at all levels of government and in the private sector seek to fabricate a person of interest so as to falsely portray him as a domestic terrorist.




    4)We are the fbi:


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