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Moreno Valley mayor's home, developer searched in corruption probe

April 30, 2013|By Phil Willon
  • FBI agents conduct a search at the corporate offices of developer Highland Fairview as part of a Moreno Valley corruption investigation.
FBI agents conduct a search at the corporate offices of developer Highland… (Phil Willon / Los Angeles…)

Federal agents searched the home of the Moreno Valley mayor and a major warehouse developer Tuesday as part of a investigation into allegations of corruption, authorities said.

Agents with the FBI, Internal Revenue Service and representatives of the Riverside district attorney’s office served search warrants at the home of Mayor Tom Owing and the corporate offices of Highland Fairview, the company that has proposed a massive 41-million-square-foot warehouse center on the eastern side of the city.

“These are federal warrants and state warrants,’’ said Laura Eimiller, FBI spokeswoman in Los Angeles. “The warrants are under seal, so I cannot comment further on the investigation.’’

The investigation is being conducted by a joint corruption task force established in the Inland Empire in 2010 because of widespread allegations of government corruption throughout Riverside and San Bernardino counties.

The investigations by the task force have led to the convictions of the former chairman of the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors as well as the mayor of Upland. Other agencies under investigation include the San Bernardino International Airport Authority and the Inland Valley Development Agency in San Bernardino.

On Monday, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission also accused the city of Victorville and one of its financial advisors of defrauding investors in a $13.3-million bond sale in 2008.

In Moreno Valley, the proposed warehouse center, known as the World Logistics Center, has been embroiled in controversy and faces opposition by nearby residents who fear the project will cause traffic jams and affect air quality.

Iddo Benzeevi, chief executive of Highland Fairview, could not be reached for comment Tuesday. The mayor also was unavailable.

Highland Fairview developed the 1.8-million-square-foot Skechers warehouse along Moreno Valley Freeway, a massive complex that dominates the landscape on the eastern edge of town.

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Twitter: @philwillon

phil.willon@latimes.com

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