Ex-Beaumont City Councilman sentenced to probation

Three years for seeking bribe money

An ex-Beaumont city councilman, who tried to extract a $15,000 bribe from a real estate developer and falsified a campaign filing to get a colleague whose decisions he disliked into trouble, was sentenced Tuesday to three years probation.

Mark Anthony Orozco, 41, pleaded guilty last month to acceptance of a bribe by a public official and perjury, both felonies. Under the plea agreement, the Riverside County District Attorney's Office dropped several other perjury allegations.

Superior Court Judge Samuel Diaz certified the terms of the plea deal and imposed the sentence stipulated by the prosecution and defense, which in addition to probation, includes 180 days in a sheriff's work-release program and a $10,000 fine.

The Beaumont City Council formally booted Orozco from his seat in a 4-0 vote on Oct. 3. Prospective candidates are now being vetted.   

In 2016, the one-term councilman made a quid pro quo offer to executives at Pardee Homes to vote for a pro-development candidate to fill an empty council seat in exchange for $15,000, but the solicited parties balked and reported him to authorities, according to prosecutors.

The perjury charge was filed after investigators discovered Orozco used a political action committee called Move Beaumont Forward to try to frame Councilwoman Nancy Carroll, prosecutors said.   

Carroll angered the defendant by voting for another candidate instead of him in December 2016, when the council picked a new mayor. In retaliation, Orozco ordered the PAC -- which had previously supported Carroll's council bid -- to report in-kind donations it had given to her campaign as cash donations.

The change made it appear as though the victim was engaged in illegal activity, and a complaint was lodged against her with the Fair Political Practices Commission. The D.A.'s office also stated that Orozco resorted to circulating emails claiming that the councilwoman had committed an offense. Further investigation revealed that Carroll was innocent of the charges, prosecutors said.

The bribery case was taken before a grand jury, resulting in an indictment containing a total of 10 felony charges. The case involving Carroll came to light afterward.

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