Southern California school board member convicted of running sex ring

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Pimpin’ ain’t easy, man, as Ice-T, The Notorious B.I.G. and a number of other celebrated rappers have incisively counseled for years. However, Moreno Valley school board member Mike Rios had to learn this wisdom the hard way.

On Friday, a jury in Riverside, California found Rios, 42, guilty on almost two dozen felony counts stemming from a prostitution operation, reports KNBC. Rios managed the venture out of his home in neighboring Moreno Valley.

The litany of charges against the school board member included rape, pimping, pandering and insurance fraud. Two of the prostitutes involved were underage girls.

The jury found Rios not guilty on another count of rape. It couldn’t come to an agreement on still another rape count, or an additional pandering charge.

At the trial, the Los Angeles Times reports, the jury heard evidence that Rios, a Democrat, approached one woman on the street and flashed a school district-emblazoned business card when he offered her a job.

In addition to using his school board position to improve his pimping luster, Rios also leveraged his small fleet of vehicles. He offered to let one underage girl use his Hummer if she would offer up her services, the district attorney said.

According to KNBC, a woman named Valery testified that she worked as a prostitute for Rios and also helped him procure additional sex workers. Valery explained that Rios “basically wanted to gather together some girls and sell them.”

“He said he needed to raise money because he wanted to be something bigger in the district,” Valery added. “He told me what I could do for men.”

Immediately after the trial, the judge revoked Rios’s $500,000 bail and ordered Rios taken into custody. A sentencing hearing is slated next month. However, Rios faces still more charges, including attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon and witness tampering.

The other charges relate to a prior incident, reports The Press-Enterprise. In February 2012, Rios allegedly got into a fight with two men over a woman at a Moreno Valley night spot. The men later trailed Rios home. In his driveway, the school board member allegedly used a handgun to fire four rounds into the vehicle belonging to the men. No one was hurt.

That incident triggered the investigation that ultimately exposed Rios’s ill-fated sex ring.

Rios has been an elected school board member since 2010. He remains on the board and he continued to attend meetings throughout his trial. Under California law, notes The Press-Enterprise, his school board seat will not become vacant until he is formally sentenced.

A local push to recall Rios in November 2012 fell short, because activists could not amass the requisite number of signatures.

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Eric Owens