The Irvine City Council Jan. 24 failed to walk a question to motorboat an autarkic probe aft governmental advisor Melahat Rafiei past week—in a plea statement relating to an FBI corruption probe—admitted engaging successful a bribery strategy successful Irvine successful 2018.
Rafiei, 45, besides agreed to plead guilty to 1 felony number of attempted ligament fraud against 1 of the cannabis dispensaries seeking her service, according to the Department of Justice. She founded Progressive Solutions Consulting, a Long Beach-based governmental consulting steadfast wherever she worked with cannabis manufacture clients and section politicians.
In her plea deal, the erstwhile enforcement manager of the Democratic Party of Orange County admitted that between April and June 2018, she agreed to springiness astatine slightest $225,000 successful bribes to 2 Irvine metropolis councilors—in speech for introducing and passing a metropolis ordinance allowing her clients to unfastened a retail cannabis store successful the city.
But the assembly would person needed a bulk of 3 members to ballot for the point to pass.
During the assembly gathering connected Tuesday, recently elected Councilwoman Kathleen Treseder called for an autarkic probe into Rafiei’s dealings with the assembly successful 2018 and was supported by Vice Mayor Tammy Kim.
“It’s conscionable not conscionable for radical to beryllium capable to bargain our votes,” Treseder said during the meeting. “It’s intolerable for america to govern reasonably if our votes are up for the highest bidder.”
But her workfellow Councilman Larry Agran said specified would not beryllium bully for the city. He was supported by Mayor Farrah Khan and Councilman Mike Carroll.
Agran said helium is “sickened by nationalist corruption,” adding that it is not indispensable to motorboat different probe successful summation to the FBI’s, which volition apt support probing into the matter.
Once the FBI has “discover[ed] determination was criminality,” they won’t quit, helium said, adding that it is the council’s work to cooperate afloat with the national prosecutors.
Additionally, Agran said a city-led probe would beryllium costly and go a taxable of ridicule for the city.
Khan and Kim, who some said Rafiei was a advisor for their campaigns, denied transportation with the blameworthy plea.
Former Councilwoman Melissa Fox came guardant Wednesday successful a connection to aggregate media outlets saying she met with Rafiei and her lawsuit who owned a cannabis concern successful Irvine successful 2018.
Fox said weeks anterior to that meeting, and autarkic of it, Rafiei asked her to execute ineligible enactment for her consulting firm. Fox said she gave her a punctuation for her hourly fee, but was not hired.
She besides said that punctuation was provided to the FBI arsenic “indicia of an intended bribe to get maine to present a cannabis ordinance successful Irvine.”
“I was shocked and precise aggravated that she had utilized this projected statement for my ineligible services to impact maine successful immoderate corrupt oregon amerciable activity,” she said.
Rafiei’s lawyer, Alaleh Kamran, said successful effect to aggregate media outlets, “To the grade that Ms. Fox is stating immoderate facts that are wrong her idiosyncratic cognition I would defer to her.”
Former Councilwoman Christina Shea and Orange County Supervisor Don Wagner, who were some connected the assembly successful 2018, told The Epoch Times they person ne'er been approached by Rafiei for a bribe.
“It is disappointing that [Rafiei] thought she mightiness beryllium capable to bribe immoderate of my colleagues and immoderate of the folks successful Anaheim apparently,” Wagner said.
The different erstwhile councilors, Jeff Lalloway and Lynn Schott, could not beryllium reached for comment.
The national probe and Rafiei’s ongoing engagement successful it were made nationalist successful May 2022.
Affidavits described the FBI probe into section pay-to-play schemes successful Anaheim involving the city’s merchantability of Angel Stadium and revealed Rafiei’s apprehension successful 2019 connected suspicion of bribing nationalist officials.
Rafiei said she was a cooperating witnesser successful the investigation, according to media reports.
A fewer days later, she resigned from her elected roles with the Democratic Party of California and arsenic authorities typical to the Democratic National Committee.
She is expected to marque her archetypal quality successful the U.S. District Court successful Santa Ana connected Feb. 6. She faces a maximum condemnation of 20 years successful national prison.