Former California mayor charged in corruption probe

“No one is above the law. Public officials should be working to benefit the people, not their own bank account.”

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Accused of soliciting bribes over a three-year period, former Maywood Mayor Ramon Medina and 10 others were charged Thursday in a 34-count complaint alleging widespread corruption. In addition to the former mayor, ex-City Manager Reuben Martinez and former city planning director David Mango have also been charged with multiple counts of grand theft and embezzlement.

Between September 2016 and June 2018, Medina, Martinez, and Mango allegedly authorized contractor Felipe Velarde to complete construction projects for Medina’s friends and supporters using public funds. The city paid Velarde $1.53 million during that time, while he used public funds to perform repair work at Mango’s home in Studio City.

Medina also allegedly directed city employees to void or dismiss parking tickets that had been issued to his friends and supporters. Additionally, Medina and his son, Ramon Medina Jr., are accused of having more than 40 gamecocks and paraphernalia used to train the birds for cock fighting.

“No one is above the law. Public officials should be working to benefit the people, not their own bank accounts,” Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón said in a recent press release. “Pay-to-play politics have no place in Los Angeles County and we are all deserving of a clean government.”

On Thursday, Gascón announced that Medina had been charged with six counts of soliciting a bribe, three counts each of conspiracy to commit a crime, embezzlement and failing to file campaign statements, two counts each of grand theft, misappropriation of public funds and perjury under oath, and one count of failure to report behested payments.

Martinez was charged with two counts each of conspiracy and grand theft, three counts each of embezzlement and misappropriation of public funds, while Mango faces two counts each of conspiracy, grand theft, embezzlement and misappropriation of public funds.

George Del Junco, a bingo hall promoter, was also charged with two counts of conspiracy and one count of bribing an executive officer. Junco’s business associate, Paul Garcia, faces three counts of bribing an executive officer.

Former Bell Gardens city councilman Mario Beltran was charged with one count of filing false or fraudulent recall petitions. Medina’s son faces one count of conspiracy to possess gamecocks for fighting purposes.

The District Attorney’s Office charged Hector Castillo with one count each of conspiracy, bribing an executive officer and grand theft and two counts of embezzlement. George Tello Ramirez faces one count of soliciting a bribe. Felipe Aguirre faces two misdemeanor counts of failing to file campaign statements. And Velarde was charged with one count of conspiracy, two counts each of grand theft, embezzlement and misappropriation of public funds.

All 11 defendants were expected to surrender to law enforcement on Thursday.

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