Former FilAm city councilman gets five-year sentence in bribery case

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – After months of delay for medical reasons, former Moreno Valley City Councilman and Mayor pro-temp Marcelo Co appeared at his sentencing aided by a walker.

Last year, Co pleaded guilty to one count of bribery and one unrelated count of filing false tax returns.

He was sentenced to five years of prison with medical care and three years of supervised release.

He was also ordered to pay $31,000 to the IRS for the tax fraud count.

“It was a serious case but we tried to anticipate to the extent that he had cooperated with law enforcement that prior to the case being indicted and everything else that it was possible he could’ve gotten a sentence less than that,” said Co’s attorney Brian Newman.

In 2013 the businessman was caught on camera accepting a $2.36 million bribe from undercover agents. That transaction is believed to be the largest bribe taken during a sting operation.

The bribe was to ensure that Co and other city council members would vote in favor of certain business and zoning projects.

The Philippine-born businessman said he believed these projects would create jobs in Moreno Valley.

He told the court that the ordeal has taken a toll on his health, suffering a double aneurism during the legal proceedings.

He declined to speak to Balitang America as he exited the courthouse.

“He will be in a medical facility. He’ll be able to rest and hopefully rehabilitate himself medically and physically,” said Newman.

Despite Co claiming to cooperate, federal officials have finished their probe of Moreno Valley’s city council and for now no other charges will be filed against other individuals.

The ailing Marcelo Co will begin serving his sentence in late October – a request granted by the judge so Co can take care of other legal matters and health issues.



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