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Verdict: Former Pechanga CFO, Insurance Broker Guilty of Bribery

Jury finds former Pechanga CFO Ryan Robinson, of Temecula and ex-insurance broker James Riley, of Murrieta guilty of committing commercial bribery while they were affiliated with the tribe.

Two men were found guilty Monday of committing bribery while they served as an insurance broker and an accountant for the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians.

A Riverside jury convicted James William Riley, 49, of Murrieta, and Ryan Jay Robinson, 42, of Temecula of three counts each of commercial bribery, according to John Hall, spokesman for the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office.

Riley, a former insurance broker and partner at Murrieta-based , and Robinson, the Pechanga tribe's former chief financial officer, are scheduled to be sentenced July 3. Each faces a maximum sentence of four years and four months, according to Hall.

Monday’s verdicts came during the retrial of the pair that occurred after a Riverside jury had deadlocked in July 2012 on whether to convict them of all the charges.

Riley and Robinson were indicted in February 2010 on multiple felony charges stemming from a $4-million scam that the District Attorney's Office alleged the pair perpetrated in 2005 and 2006.

The jury in July 2012 voted 8-4 for acquittal on charges of grand theft and money laundering. Those counts were then dropped, leaving only the bribery charges. On those, the jury hung 10-2 for guilty.

"The facts just aren't there regarding an intent to steal," Chris Jensen, Robinson's attorney, told City News Service at the time. "The prosecution seems bothered by the profits that (Mr. Riley) made, and they're trying to equate profits to theft ... The tribe might have been overcharged (on insurance premiums), but is that stealing?"

Riverside County Deputy District Attorney Jeanne Roy alleged Riley and Robinson began their illicit activity shortly after Hurricane Katrina struck in September 2005. Commercial insurance rates skyrocketed following the disaster, enabling the defendants to justify exorbitant insurance costs from which they gained, according to the prosecutor.

She said Riley allegedly artificially inflated the tribe's property and risk insurance premiums to pocket large sums disguised as fees, with Robinson's complicity.

The prosecution contended that Robinson received $190,000 under the table for his participation. Jensen characterized the payments as "loans" that his client needed to pay down divorce-related debts.

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

Both defendants remain free on $25,000 bail until they must report for sentencing.

—City News Service and Maggie Avants contributed to this report.

Rick Cuevas May 01, 2013 at 02:03 PM
why is there no mention of who they bribed from Pechanga? which tribal member benefitted from bribes?
dg May 01, 2013 at 08:05 PM
The chief!

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