Member of Commerce City Council Pleads Guilty to Conspiracy to Obstruct Investigation into Campaign-Reimbursement Scheme
LOS ANGELES – Commerce City Councilman Robert Fierro has pleaded guilty to a federal conspiracy charge, admitting that he and others agreed to corruptly influence witnesses to make false declarations before a federal grand jury investigating Fierro’s role in an illegal campaign finance scheme.
Fierro, 40, a resident of Commerce, pleaded guilty to the felony charge yesterday before United States District Judge Philip S. Gutierrez.
Last Tuesday, Fierro’s sister-in-law and campaign treasurer, Ana Perez, 46, of Commerce, pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge related to her conduct in the scheme.
Fierro and Perez are scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Gutierrez on April 23. At sentencing, each defendant faces a statutory maximum sentence of five years in federal prison.
“Fierro and his co-conspirators’ attempts to obstruct a federal investigation and the federal grand jury process amount to direct assaults on the integrity of the American judicial system,” said United States Attorney André Birotte Jr. “We will be always be vigilant in holding those accountable for compromising the integrity of the judicial system.”
According to documents filed by prosecutors in federal court, during the 2004-2005 City of Commerce election campaign, Fierro recruited family and friends to make contributions to his campaign, with Fierro secretly reimbursing the value of the contributions in cash. Fierro never disclosed the contributions or reimbursements to the State of California or on his campaign’s finance records.
According to Perez’s plea agreement, Robert Fierro collected and reimbursed illegal contributions on behalf of his campaign. In one instance, Perez wrote a $500 check to Fierro’s campaign, and another $500 check to the campaign of his running mate. Fierro reimbursed Perez with a $1,000 cash payment the following day, Perez admitted in court.
In the spring of 2006, Fierro, his wife, and Perez learned that the FBI was conducting an investigation into the illegal-reimbursement scheme. During an interview with the FBI, Perez falsely denied she received a reimbursement for her $1,000 contribution, according to her plea agreement. Soon thereafter, Perez and others received subpoenas to testify before a grand jury looking into the scheme. In June 2006, Fierro, his wife, and Perez scheduled a meeting with contributors who had received subpoenas and attempted to convince them to falsely testify that they were not reimbursed for their contributions, according to Perez’s plea agreement.
In July 2006, Perez appeared before a federal grand jury and falsely testified that she was not reimbursed for her contributions in 2005 and that she did not participate in the June 2006 meeting, Perez admitted in her plea agreement.
Robert Fierro’s wife – Linda Fierro, who was named in an indictment along with her husband and Perez – is currently scheduled to go on trial on March 20.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Release No. 12-026
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