Thu. Jun 1st, 2023

Melahat Rafiei, 45, a former very powerful Democratic Party official in both Orange County and Sacramento, pleaded guilty on Friday to charges of attempting to defraud one of her political consultancy firm’s clients, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California.

Rafiei is facing a maximum of 20 years in federal prison however she signed a plea agreement in January, which could lower her sentence. She is due back in court for sentencing on Oct. 13.

Rafiei previously represented California on the Democratic National Committee and she was the secretary for the California Democratic Party. She also served on the OC Fair Board. She resigned from all of these positions in May of last year after she was accused of being complicit in a corruption scheme in Anaheim regarding the proposed sale of Angel Stadium land.

While Rafiei did not plead to any bribery charges federal prosecutors outlined a bribery scheme in Irvine in her plea agreement.

According to the plea agreement, between September and October of 2019, Rafiei lied to one of her clients that she would work on passing a cannabis-related ordinance in Anaheim that would benefit her client’s business for a payment of at least $300,000, though she was already working on such an ordinance for other clients.

Rafiei is also alleged to have falsely stated that she would keep only $10,000 of the payment but she instead intended to keep $100,000 of it.

Rafiei also lied that $200,000 of the $300,000 would go to the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce, but she intended to split the $200,000 between herself and an unrelated associate, according to the prosecutors. Payments were to be made by checks to various entities, and prosecutors said Rafiei intended to deposit the money into accounts she controlled and transmit a portion of the funds to others.

Rafiei agreed to plead guilty to the count of wire fraud, but that charge is not related to the Anaheim probe, which she she started to talk to investigators about after her arrest in 2019.

Who else will Rafiei rat out before the investigators are done with her?

By Editor

The New Santa Ana blog has been covering news, events and politics in Santa Ana since 2009.

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