BEAUMONT, Calif. - Beaumont City Councilman Mark Anthony Orozco is slated to be arraigned Thursday at the Riverside Hall of Justice on 10 felony charges involving alleged falsification of campaign funds on government documents and
soliciting a bribe.
Orozco, a 40-year-old from Beaumont, was indicted by a Riverside County criminal grand jury on Thursday, May 11, on one count of soliciting a bribe and nine counts of perjury for falsely identifying campaign funds on his required disclosure document; the Fair Political Practices Commission Form 460.
Orozco, who is free on $25,000 bail, could face a maximum 13 years in state prison if convicted.
Beaumont city officials reportedly notified the D.A.'s office of alleged fraud on the part of the defendant, who was elected in 2014. Most of the charges concern willful misclassification of campaign money, according to prosecutors. The source of the bribery charge was not revealed, nor were any other details, in keeping with the secret nature of criminal grand jury proceedings.
In 2016, Orozco's was among the loudest voices urging resolution of a corruption probe that two years ago this month resulted in a slew of charges against a half-dozen former and current Beaumont employees, including ex-police Chief Frank Coe, the former planning director, William Dillon, and the former economic development director, Ernest Egger.
The defendants were indicted on various charges, ranging from misappropriation of funds to financial conflict of interest. It's alleged that more than $43 million was embezzled or otherwise used in the commission of fraud. A status hearing in that case is scheduled Friday in Riverside.
Orozco took his seat on the council after the investigation into the Beaumont case six began and was not implicated.
District Attorney Mike Hestrin said the councilman's case serves as yet another example of the agency's drive to ``hold our community leaders to the highest standards ... (and) deter political corruption in our county.''
Beaumont residents say they're fed up and have seen enough corruption from city leaders, city releases statement
"It’s really disappointing that they’ve been investigated and all this stuff is going on and they’re still doing the same thing. And it’s costing everyone who lives here out of their pocket," said Rick Tanner, a business owner in Beaumont.
Another concerned resident said there needs to be more regulation and oversight.
“This is exactly what happens when things get out of control. And it’s all about honesty and integrity, and it seems to me, it’s not so much about government, but the individuals," Carol T. of Beaumont said.
The City of Beaumont released a statement following the announcement of the charges. City officials said the indictment stems from a criminal investigation connected to a complaint which was actually submitted to the District Attorney's Office by the City of Beaumont.
The city's statement went on to say, Beaumont agrees completely with District Attorney Hestrin’s statement that, “It is important to hold our community leaders to the highest standards in our continued efforts to deter political corruption in our county.” City officials have and will continue to cooperate to the fullest extent possible regarding this case.
“As elected officials we swear solemn oaths to uphold the laws of our land. We also swear to protect the health, safety and welfare of the community in which we serve,” said Beaumont Mayor Lloyd White. “If the City ever receives a credible complaint from a reliable source about any of our elected or appointed officials, we will report it immediately to the appropriate agency. We have zero tolerance for any type of criminal or unethical behavior.”
This indictment is in no way relates to the pending criminal case involving former Beaumont officials.
“Beaumont has made great strides over the past two years,” said Mayor White. “We have achieved financial stability and are on our way to becoming a premier city. We still have a lot of work to do and through the active involvement and support of our community we can do great things.”
This indictment is unrelated to the pending criminal case involving former Beaumont city officials, according to the District Attorney's Office.
Orozco is expected to surrender on May 25 at the Hall of Justice in Riverside for his arraignment scheduled that day. His bail is set at $25,000 and his maximum sentence as currently charged is 13 years in state prison.
“Our Public Integrity Unit does the difficult and necessary work of rooting out corruption in our community,” District Attorney Mike Hestrin said. “I appreciate and thank the City of Beaumont for their continued cooperation during the course of the investigation. It was only with the partnership of the Beaumont officials, that we were able to bring forth the indictment against Orozco. It is important to hold our community leaders to the highest standards in our continued efforts to deter political corruption in our county.”
According to the DA's release, due to the confidentiality of the grand jury proceedings, no additional information about the evidence presented to the grand jury can be released at this time. By law, the transcript of the
grand jury proceedings is sealed until 10 days after the defendant receives a copy of the transcripts. After that happens, the DA’s Office will request that the transcript be unsealed and it will then become a public record.