Community East Edition Local News News

Pico Rivera mayor charged in campaign fund scheme

LOS ANGELES — The mayor of Pico Rivera and the owner of an education consulting firm have been charged with improperly reimbursing family members and friends for donating money to a candidate who was running for a seat on Montebello’s school board, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced June 23.

Pico Rivera Mayor Gustavo Vidal Camacho, 54, and Luis Diaz Rojas, 55, are set to be arraigned Oct. 8 in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom on one felony count each of conspiracy to commit improper identification of a campaign contributor and one misdemeanor count each of making a campaign contribution under a false name or improper identification of a campaign contributor, prosecutors said.

The two could each face up to three years in county jail if convicted as charged, according to the District Attorney’s Office.

Camacho and Rojas, owner of the DelTerra Group, allegedly engaged in a scheme to launder contributions to Joanna Flores, a Montebello Unified School District board member, according to prosecutors.

Donors allegedly enlisted by the two men signed checks to the Flores campaign and received reimbursements for their contributions between December 2016 and April 2016, according to the District Attorney’s Office.

Camacho was elected to the City Council in November 2009 and has served three times as mayor, according to the city’s website.

Rojas has operated the DelTerra Group since 1994. The company specializes in managing school construction projects and has worked on projects in Montebello, Pico Rivera and Whittier over the years, many of which involved litigation.

An independent audit in 2018 of the firm’s work on a project for the Montebello Unified School District called on the firm to refund money the district had paid or prove how it had provided services to the district.

At the time, Rojas defended his company’s work on the district’s bond program.

Wave Wire Services