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School board member convicted of pimping gets 14 years

March 8, 2013 | 10:57 am

Mike Rios, a Moreno Valley School Board member convicted of running a prostitution ring, was sentenced to 14 years in state prison.A Moreno Valley School Board member convicted of running a prostitution ring was sentenced Friday to 14 years in state prison.

Riverside County Superior Court Judge Gary Tranbarger brushed aside a request by Mike Rios’ defense attorney to limit the sentence to four years in prison, or probation.

Deputy Dist. Atty. Michael Brusselback said Rios' actions and his lack of remorse called for a stiff prison sentence.

"Given his position on the school board, the crimes he committed are a breach of the public trust of the highest order," Brusselback said.

The prosecutor said Rios continues to claim that he did nothing wrong and that he was the victim of a political vendetta, an assertion Brusselback described as a "warped sense of reality."

Rios, shackled and dressed in a bright orange jail outfit, showed little emotion as the judge read the sentence in a Riverside courtroom.

In February, a jury convicted Rios, a member of the school board since 2010, of 23 felony charges, including a dozen counts of pimping, five counts of pandering and six counts of insurance fraud.

During the trial, young women testified that Rios ran a prostitution ring in 2011 and 2012. One of the women told the jury Rios approached her on the street with a school district business card in his hand and a job opportunity on his mind: He wanted her "to gather girls and sell them," she said.

The young woman, identified in court only as Valery, testified that she and others worked as prostitutes for Rios. In addition, she said, she helped recruit other young women for him.

"He told me we had to get the best-looking girls so we could get more money for them," she said.

Prosecutors said Rios ran a prostitution ring out of his Moreno Valley home, that he acted as a pimp for three adult female prostitutes and that he tried to recruit another adult woman and two minors. Rios recruited women, took provocative photos of them in his home and posted the photos in online ads, they said.

Deputy Public Defender Michael J. Micallef argued that Rios ran a business involving women stripping, dancing and performing for money but that it "had nothing to do with sex."

Micallef said Rios plans to appeal the conviction.


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-- Phil Willon in Riverside

Photo: Mike Rios. Source: Moreno Valley Unified School District