Homes of mayor, council members raided in Moreno Valley


FBI, IRS and officers with the Riverside County District Attorney's Office say they began serving search warrants at the homes of city leaders early Tuesday morning.

An FBI spokesperson confirmed that search warrants were served at the homes of Mayor Tom Owings and the homes belonging to all four city council members.

"It's never nice to be woken up in the morning by the FBI," Owings said. "Obviously, I feel I'm innocent of any wrongdoing, but there's been no accusations of wrongdoing."

Search warrants were also served at the home of Jerry Stephens, a real estate broker that lives within the city of Moreno Valley, and at the corporate offices of Highland Fairview belonging to developer Iddo Benzeevi.

Because the warrants are sealed, the FBI says they cannot comment on the nature of the investigation, but it is believed it is regarding corruption within the city's government. Federal investigators would not say how their investigation came about.

"It involves criminal investigation of influence peddling, campaign violations and political corruption," said Michael Moriarty, chief investigator with the district attorney's office.

The assistant city manager said the city has not been contacted by federal authorities, but would cooperate with any investigation. Owings is asking his constituents to remain patient and not rush to judgment.

"I don't believe I've ever done anything wrong in my whole life that would betray the trust of someone," Owings said.

Files and computers were seized, but no one has been arrested.

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