By CBSLA Staff

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – The former mayor of Maywood and 10 others face criminal charges in a widespread corruption investigation, prosecutors announced Thursday.

A 34-count complaint filed by Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon’s office alleges officials were involved in soliciting and
receiving bribes, misappropriation of public funds and embezzlement over a
three-year period.

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Maywood Mayor Ramon Medina Mojarra at meeting, Aug. 22, 2018 (CBS2)

In addition to former mayor and councilman Ramon Medina, the defendants include former City Manager Reuben Martinez and Planning Director David Mango.

Medina, 61, was charged with six counts of soliciting a bribe, three counts each of conspiracy to commit a crime, embezzlement and failing to file campaign statements, two counts each of grand theft, misappropriation of public funds and perjury under oath and one count of failure to report behested payment, prosecutors said.

Medina, along with former City Manager Reuben Martinez and Building and Planning Director David Mango, are accused of trying several times to sell three redevelopment properties for less than half their fair market value, according to prosecutors.

Although the properties were supposed to be developed for much-needed affordable housing, prosecutors say the trio sought a buyer who would build a 24/7 charitable bingo hall.

The three defendants allegedly promised potential buyers favorable financing terms and agreed to share a portion of the revenues generated by the bingo hall. In return, Medina is accused of soliciting bribes from one prospective buyer, co-defendant Paul Garcia, to recall a Maywood councilmember.

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Between September 2016 and June 2018, the three men also are accused of authorizing contractor Felipe Velarde to complete construction projects for Medina’s friends and supporters using public funds. The work allegedly included building handicap ramps and driveways on private properties, installing speed bumps on streets that did not meet industry standards and repair work at Mango’s home in Studio City.

Medina also allegedly directed city employees to void or dismiss parking tickets that had been issued to his friends and supporters.

Additionally, Medina and his son, Ramon Medina Jr., are accused of having more than 40 gamecocks and paraphernalia used to train the birds for cock fighting.

In Aug. 2018, Medina was found guilty of one count of animal cruelty and one count of failure to care for an animal, charges he called the result of “a witch hunt.”

“No one is above the law. Public officials should be working to benefit the people, not their own bank accounts,” said Gascon. “Pay-to-play politics have no place in Los Angeles County and we are all deserving of a clean government.”

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Arraignment is scheduled for Thursday afternoon.