RIVERSIDE — A Moreno Valley Unified school board member was sentenced to 14 years, four months in prison on Friday for nearly two dozen convictions including pimping and pandering.
Mike Rios, 42, was found guilty back in February of 23 of 26 felonies, including a dozen counts of pimping, six counts of insurance fraud and five counts of pandering.
Jurors found him not guilty of one rape, hung on another count of rape and a pandering charge.
The judge in the case dismissed another nine counts of pandering before the case went to the jury.
The prosecution had been seeking a sentence of 24 years and six months, while the defense had sought four years of probation.
Prosecutors alleged that Rios, a member of the Moreno Valley School Board since 2010, ran a prostitution ring out of his home.
It is alleged that three adult women worked for him as prostitutes and that he attempted to recruit another adult woman and two minors.
Rios offered one young underage girl use of his Hummer if she would work for him as a prostitute.
He met another juvenile through an Internet advertisement she placed for prostitution, prosecutors said. He again offered her use of a car and his house if she worked for him.
During the trial, a young woman testified that Rios approached her on the street with a school district business card in his hand and a business proposition “to gather girls and sell them.”
The young woman, identified in court only as Valery, said that she and others worked as prostitutes for Rios, and also helped recruit other young women for him.
“He told me we had to get the best-looking girls so we could get more money for them,” Valery testified.
Prosecutors say Rios recruited women, took provocative photos of them in his home and posted the photos in online advertisements.
He allegedly established a cellphone number solely for the prostitution work, drove the women to various locations to have sex and split the money they earned.
Rios’ attorney, Deputy Public Defender Michael J. Micallef, told jurors Rios ran a business involving women stripping, dancing and performing for money but that it “had nothing to do with sex.”
The women were free to do whatever they wanted “to satisfy their greed,” and what they did besides stripping and dancing “wasn’t necessarily known to Mr. Rios,” Micallef said.
Now that he has been sentenced, Rios is officially removed from the school board, and the school district can begin the process of replacing him.
Rios had refused to step down from his position, and even continued to attend school board meeting until he was placed in custody on Feb. 8.
Rios still faces a separate trial on attempted murder charges for allegedly shooting at two men who followed him home after they got into an argument at a bar in February 2012.
A trial readiness hearing in the shooting case is set for April 12. Rios has pleaded not guilty.
The investigation into the shooting is what led authorities to information that brought about the pimping, pandering and insurance fraud case.