Friday, September 4, 2015

Baldwin Park Council Members and Mayor Approve Contractor Targeted Once in Bribery Investigation

Baldwin Park Council Members and Mayor approved a $120,000 contract to a known vendor, which the FBI targeted in a probe for bribery. On Aug. 2, 2015, Mayor Manuel Lozano, Council Member: Susan Rubio, Ricardo Pacheco, and "Monica" Garcia voted to approve a contract which would provide the city with "building inspection and plan check services" - whatever that is.

The contract was approved before the city elections in October. Council Member Ricardo Pacheco and Mayor Manuel Lozano are claiming they have no money left in their political campaign accounts. Nonetheless, it is estimated that a local election in Baldwin Park can run up to $80,000. Both Ricardo Pacheco and Mayor Manuel Lozano have not filed their forms yet to disclose their campaign contributors - which the law requires - so that citizens can see who is funding them.

Baldwin Park City Council has been approving a series of contracts before election in violation of state law. At the last council meeting, the council attempted to approve a 10 year extension to Royal Coaches Towing, which already received a five year extension in violation of the requirement for cities to propose tender two years ago (again right before election). And like AAE, Royal Coaches is well known campaign contributor to the incumbent council members and mayor.

This contract was approved to Advanced Applied Engineering Inc. (AAE), which has been a target once of a State Controller and FBI probe into bribery. The CEO of the firm is Sid Mousavi, who was present at the council meeting.

In 2011, the LA Times reported that Sid Mousavi and AAE were being probed by the FBI and California State Controller. The State Controller reported that Sid Mousavi was illegally using taxpayer money, arranging illegal loans, and engaging in self-dealing. The LA Times article can be read: HERE

Two witnesses that sat behind Mousavi during the council meeting reported on seeing that his texts were asking the Mayor and council members where they should have dinner after his contract was approved. After the council meeting, witnesses saw Mousavi high-five Mayor Lozano.

Council members of the City of Maywood have said that executives of the corporation AAE have presented envelopes, full of thousands of dollars in cash to secure the vote. Was the same done here?

Even though Baldwin Park may not be your city, the whole incident shows one money laundering mechanism that is at play in local government. Cities contract shell corporations out for vague and unneeded services. The owners of those shell corporations provide cash donations back to the city council members and mayor - whom desperately need it before election time so that while they're in office they can secure more opportunities for self-interested deals.

Sadly, it's becoming clearer that those who are controlling cities are not the public officials - but those who not only have money, but the knowledge to take from city treasuries, only to return it to our elected officials.

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