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Hews Media Article Results in a L.A. Sheriff’s Investigation of Commerce Mayor John Soria


Commerce Mayor John Soria.

BY BRIAN HEWS • [email protected]

For the second time in less than a week, a Hews Media Group-Los Cerritos Community Newspaper article has resulted in an internal investigation of a state and county employee.

The first instance involved Kevin Hunt, former GM of Central Basin Water based in Commerce, Ca., who was fired last week after a series of investigative articles by HMG-LCCN.

Now an article published earlier this month has resulted in a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Internal Affairs investigation of Commerce Mayor John Soria.

Soria is employed as a Law Enforcement Technician for the LA County Sheriff’s Department. 

The investigation was confirmed by  Sergeant Jeremy Carr of the Sheriff’s Internal Affairs Bureau.

Soria, who garnered less that 1,000 votes to win election, is the Mayor of Commerce, a tiny town in Southeast Los Angeles county that has the biggest card room in the world, the Commerce Casino, along with one of the biggest high-end outlet malls in the country, the Citadel.

Soria, along with Council-members Ivan Altamirano and Oralia Rebollo, have pushed hard to land cannabis licenses in Commerce, handing out $400,000 in sole-source no-bid contracts to two woman who had absolutely no experience in screening cannabis licenses.

One woman was a former grant writer for the city of Compton, the other was a multi-level marketing jewelry sales representative.

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The documents supporting the awarding of the bogus contracts was undisputed; yet L.A. County District Attorney Jackie Lacey has refused to investigate the no bid contracts and the woman behind them.

There are rumors that the FBI is investigating the city’s cannabis licenses awards.

Sensing no retribution from Jackie Lacey and her office, Soria came up with another plan, a self-aggrandizing strategy that involves working with questionable cannabis businesses and former Bell Gardens City Councilman and convicted felon Mario Beltran.

Beltran has been seen all over East Los Angeles acting as the middle-man between  cannabis companies and cities.

In the article, HMG-LCCN obtained several pictures posted on social media that showed Soria endorsing binge drinking and public drunkenness, all while blatantly supporting cannabis companies that obtained licenses in the city via the system set up by the grant writer and the multi-level market rep.

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The pictures showed Soria sponsoring a trip on November 22 to Las Vegas, using a City-leased bus loaded with officials, local Teamster union representatives, and Carlos Maravilla, a candidate running for City Council in Commerce.

The word loaded was key to the trip.

Soria branded the trip “Canna Bus to Las Vegas, ”designing a professional logo that included the city of Commerce’s name prominently displayed inside the famous Las Vegas sign logo, along with an Ace card that had a pot leaf. 

Seen in one of several pictures posted on the Commerce Now Facebook Page was Soria on the City-leased bus, with a large beer in hand, and several officials, including candidate Maravilla, smiling broadly wearing his Teamsters t-shirt.

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Soria with a beer in hand on a city-leased bus. It was 1:55 p.m. at the time. In the background in Commerce City Council candidate Carlos Maravilla.

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It is illegal to drink beer on a City-leased bus.

In another picture, Soria was seen with Maravilla and Mario Beltran in front of the leased bus.

Beltran was accused by prosecutors of embezzling campaign funds from Ron Calderon to pay for his legal defense in a 2006 criminal case. Beltran pleaded guilty to four counts.

Seven counts of grand theft, one count of perjury and one count of failing to deposit cash was dismissed at sentencing as part of Beltran’s negotiated plea agreement.

In addition, Beltran was accused of filing a false police report when he solicited a prostitute at a seedy hotel in 2013. The prostitute reportedly beat Beltran up and stole his Bell Gardens police badge.

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Canna-Bus : from (l-r) Mario Beltran, Mayor John Soria, and Commerce City Council candiate Carols Maravilla.

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Yet there was Soria and Maravilla, in front of the Canna Bus to Las Vegas logo, both smiling with Beltran.

“Seems like that Canna Bus to Vegas and hanging out with Mario Beltran goes against everything the Sheriff stands for,” said one Commerce resident who did not want to be identified, “not to mention the stain he placed on the City with that stupid logo.”

“And what’s with Carlos Maravila, the Commerce Council candidate who also hangs around felons, I wonder what his Teamster bosses would think of that?”

Several texts into Soria went unreturned

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