MORENO VALLEY (CBSLA.com) — Federal and local agents Tuesday morning raided the homes of Moreno Valley’s mayor and four city council members.
The residences of Mayor Tom Owings, Jesse Molina, Richard Stewart, Victoria Baca and Marcelo Co were all served with search warrants by a joint political corruption task force, which includes members of the FBI, Internal Revenue Service and Riverside County District Attorney’s Office.
Authorities also searched the Highland Fairview offices of Iddo Benzeevi, a commercial developer with plans to build a large corporate facility in the area.
The FBI and the Riverside County DA’s Office would only divulge that the search was part of an “ongoing political corruption investigation.”
Activists who said they fought for four years to expose alleged corruption said the council is being controlled by Benzeevi, who they claim has become the political boss of Moreno Valley.
“When the decision does not benefit the public and only benefits one particular developer, and that’s the developer that got them all elected, then they’re all bought and paid for,” said Deanna Reeder.
Owings asked the public for patience and said he was innocent of any wrongdoing, according to the Press-Enterprise.
“I don’t think I’ve ever done anything wrong in my whole life,” he said.
On Tuesday night, Owings and the rest of the council members got an earful from angry residents at a regularly scheduled meeting.
“I cannot wait for that ‘perp’ walk. I cannot wait for the FBI to wipe that silly, condescending smirk off your face,” Nina Ramos Hiers screamed at Owings.
“Chicken!” one person yelled as the mayor and other members walked out to a back room office.
They later returned to finish the meeting, according to KCAL9’s Dave Bryan.