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In 2013, former Moreno Valley City councilman Marcelo Co was caught by the FBI accepting $2.36 million in bribes, an amount prosecutors believe to the be largest of its kind ever accepted by a public official during a sting operation. Now, due to the careful defense representation from Okabe & Haushalter, Co will serve just 60 months for both the federal bribery offense and additional state penalties in an unrelated case.
In January of 2013, Co accepted the multi-million, cash bribe from an FBI agent posing as a real estate agent. For the money, Co promised to influence the City Council to change the zoning of a valuable property he was trying to sell with the agent. After a guilty plea, Co was sentenced to just 60 months in federal prison.
As The Press Enterprise reports, the federal bribery charges were not the only criminal allegations Co faced in 2013. Late that year, he resigned due to fraud and grand theft charges brought against him by the state of California. According to prosecutors, Co illegally collected $15,000 in state and federal aid for his ill mother who was living outside the country.
This week, Riverside County Superior Court Judge Richard Fields oversaw Co’s state charges. Under the assured counsel of Okabe & Haushalter, Co changed his not guilty plea to no contest. The new plea prompted another 60 month sentence that will be served concurrently with his federal penalty—meaning he will serve no additional time.
“We believe that it’s the most equitable and just resolution to the case,” Attorney Ryan Okabe following the state sentencing. Co’s critical no contest plea was negotiated by Attorney Okabe and other defense counsel with the judge. Co will start serving his sentence this coming October at a federal medical facility due to a recent stroke.
We congratulate our dedicated team at Okabe & Haushalter for their effective handling of yet another landmark case. Along with the Dreamboard trial, this victory marks another unprecedented criminal case brought a swift and just conclusion by our firm.
If you are facing criminal allegations, then your choice in representation will have a direct effect on the outcome of your case. Okabe & Haushalter is a nationally-recognized firm that has built its reputation on handling serious, high-profile cases and navigating them to their best possible conclusion.