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Judge to Consider Dismissal of Tribal Theft Case

Jurors Thursday deadlocked 8-4 in favor of acquittal on most counts for James William Riley, 48, of Corona, and Ryan Jay Robinson, 41, of Temecula, prompting the judge to declare a mistrial.

A judge Monday afternoon was scheduled to hear arguments on a motion to dismiss the case of two men charged with money laundering, burglary and bribery in connection with the alleged bilking of the Pechanga tribe.

Jurors Thursday  deadlocked 8-4 in favor of acquittal on most counts for James William Riley, 48, of Corona, and Ryan Jay Robinson, 41, of Temecula, prompting the judge to declare a mistrial.

The hearing is scheduled for 4 p.m. in Dept. 53 at the Riverside Hall of Justice; should the judge dismiss the charges, the District Attorney's office would have to refile the charges in order to prosecute the men.

Riley and Robinson were Jindicted in February 2010 on multiple felony charges stemming from a scam that the pair allegedly perpetrated between 2005 and 2007.

Riley, a former insurance broker and partner at Riley, Garrison & Associates, could face 20 years in prison and six-figure fines if convicted of three counts each of grand theft, commercial bribery and money laundering.

Robinson, the Pechanga tribe's former chief financial officer, is facing up to seven years behind bars if convicted of grand theft and three counts of bribery.

The prosecution completed its closing arguments Monday and the defendants' attorneys finished their statements Tuesday; Riverside County Superior Court Judge Elisabeth Sichel sent the jury behind closed doors to deliberate the case about 2 p.m.

The trial began July 11.

Deputy District Attorney Jeanne Roy told jurors that Riley and Robinson began scamming the tribe shortly after Hurricane Katrina in September 2005.

Commercial insurance rates went through the roof following the disaster, enabling the defendants to justify exorbitant insurance costs from which they were profiting, Roy alleged.

The prosecutor contended that Riley -- with Robinson's complicity -- artificially inflated the tribe's property and risk insurance premiums to pocket large sums disguised as fees.

According to the prosecutor, Riley lived a lavish lifestyle while his co-defendant used $190,000 in ill-gotten gains to pay off gambling debts.

According to Riley's attorney, Souley Diallo, his client never committed a crime, and the prosecution's case boils down to a misunderstanding of complex financial arrangements.

Chris Jensen, Robinson's legal counsel, acknowledged that his client received tens of thousands of dollars in cashier's checks from Riley, but said there was no evidence that the funds were part of a bribe or that there was a conspiracy to steal from the tribe.

Riley is free on $1 million bail, and Robinson remains free on a $120,000 bond.

temeculan July 30, 2012 at 04:34 PM
You can steal more with a brief case than you can with a gun. All you need is two sharp lawyers and 12 dimbulb jurors. By the way....anybody looking for an experienced insurance broker or financial advisor?
Father2Sons July 30, 2012 at 04:56 PM
It's about time to move on from this. How about losing the horrible mugshots?

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