Moreno Valley school board member to be sentenced for pimping

Mike Rios claimed he was interested only in running a striptease business

RIVERSIDE, Calif. - Sentencing is scheduled Friday for Moreno Valley school  board member Mike Rios, who  was convicted of nearly two-dozen felony charges connected with a sex-for-money operation that he ran out of his home.

      An eight-man, four-woman jury in Riverside found Rios guilty on Feb. 8 of a dozen counts of pimping, five counts of pandering and six counts of  insurance fraud. Riverside County Superior Court Judge Gary Tranbarger could sentence the 42-year-old defendant this morning to a maximum 33 years, four months in prison.

      Rios, who is being held without bail at the Robert Presley Jail in  Riverside , is awaiting trial in a separate case in which he's charged with two counts of attempted murder and illegal possession of a weapon, with sentence- enhancing gun use allegations, for allegedly shooting at two men who followed  him home after a dispute at a Moreno Valley bar.   

      Rios claimed during last month's trial that he was interested only in  running a striptease business -- not an out-call sex service.

      The prosecution said the illicit activity occurred mainly in 2011.

      Rios admitted that he was familiar with the striptease business as far  back as 2005 because his wife, who is now awaiting deportation for being a  criminal alien, worked at Alameda Strip in Los Angeles and posted online ads  for stripping at the time.   

      The defendant testified about his arrangement with a stripper named  Valery, who lived in his home and had use of his cars in exchange for helping  pay the bills. He said he would drive her and two other women to and from strip  acts, whether "in-call" or "out-call," in part because he wasn't making  enough money to hire a security guard.     

      Valery, 20, testified that Rios "basically wanted to gather together  some girls and sell them."

      "He said he needed to raise money because he wanted to be something  bigger in the district," Valery said. "He told me what I could do for men."

      Rios testified about two car wrecks -- one in which a woman backed his  white Mercedes-Benz into a post at a Walmart, and another in which he crashed  his black Volkswagen Jetta while two women were in the car with him. The  defendant admitted lying to his insurance company and a sheriff's investigator  about the accidents.

      Evidence on computers and mobile telephones led to the sex-related  charges. The clues surfaced during an investigation into the Feb. 16, 2012,  shooting outside Rios' two-story home in the 27500 block of Palm Shadows Drive.

      Jurors were deadlocked on one count of sexual assault involving a woman  identified only as Nancy, who testified that Rios raped her while she was  drunk. The jury acquitted him of an alleged sexual assault on a woman named  Bianca. Both alleged incidents occurred in his bedroom.

      The jury also was hung over one of the pandering charges, stemming from  Rios' alleged attempts to persuade a 16-year-old girl, Alicia, to work for him as a call girl.

      The convicted felon's colleagues on the Moreno Valley Unified School  District Board of Education trustees are expected to initiate removal  proceedings against him before the end of the 2012-13 academic year.

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