RIVERSIDE, Calif. - Moreno Valley school board member Mike Rios is slated to testify today in his own defense against accusations that he ran a sex-for- money operation, pimping out girls and women, two of whom he allegedly sexually assaulted.
The prosecution concluded its case Tuesday in Rios's trial, which began Jan. 30. The 42-year-old could face more than 15 years in prison if convicted of 35 felony counts -- including forcible rape, pimping, pandering and insurance fraud -- stemming from alleged criminal activity in 2011 and 2012. He's free on $500,000 bail.
The sex-for-money charges were filed last April when a Riverside County sheriff's investigation revealed Rios had been running prostitutes out of his two-story house in the 27500 block of Palm Shadows Drive, according to authorities.
"He basically wanted to gather together some girls and sell them," said Valery, 20, who was among the first witnesses called by the prosecution.
Valery alleged the school board member flashed his business card to impress her and others, telling her that he needed to increase his cashflow to build up a campaign war chest -- and the call girl service was the fastest means to accomplish that.
"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."
According to woman, she worked as a prostitute briefly, receiving half of whatever she earned and relinquishing the balance to Rios, who allegedly transported the young women to meeting locations and paid for the motel rooms.
Riverside County Deputy District Attorney Mike Brusselback displayed Internet advertisements showing Valery and a half-dozen other women scantily clad and in provocative poses, with captions reading: "Sexy Hot Latinas Waiting for You. Call Now" and "We're Here for Your Pleasure and Enjoyment. Stop Wasting Time. Let's Get Together."
An 18-year-old Los Angeles County woman identified only as Bianca testified during an earlier hearing that she was an outcall prostitute for two months in 2011, providing services to at least 40 men with whom Rios arranged "dates."
The witness said the defendant persuaded her to do "bad things with men," telling her she couldn't make money otherwise. The going rate was $200- $300 an hour, of which she received $65-$100.
Bianca said she quit after Rios sexually assaulted her in his bedroom.
One of the teenage witnesses alleged that Rios gave her free use of his Volkswagen Jetta in an attempt to persuade her to prostitute herself. The defendant also allegedly bragged to one victim about being a local government official and implied he could use his influence to help her.
Rios is separately charged with attempting to shoot two men over a dispute that started at a Moreno Valley bar last Feb. 16.
The defendant was elected to the Moreno Valley Unified School District Board of Trustees in November 2010. According to the school board bylaws, Rios will automatically lose his position if he is unable to perform his duties for three consecutive months or is convicted of a felony.