An FBI Special Agent filed a complaint in US District Court on January 28, 2022, against Luis Manuel Flores, an alleged bribery intermediary, stating he intentionally conspired with “Person A” to corruptly give something of value with intent to influence and reward an agent of the State or Local government valuing $5,000 or more.
According to the complaint, Luis Manuel Flores was a draftsman and consultant who performed work on behalf of Person A, a large property owner in Southern Arizona. One of Person A’s properties was a large cement parcel located between two warehouses owned by Person A and/or Person A’s business entities. The cement parcel was subject to its own tax assessment separate from the warehouses, and Person A consequently had to pay property taxes for the cement parcel which was valued at over $1 million.
Public Official 1 was an elected official and agent of SCC with authority over property valuations for purposes of assessing taxes.
For several months leading up to March 2020, Person A complained to Public Official 1 about having to pay taxes on the cement parcel because is essentially served as a parking lot for the warehouses. On March 11, 2020, Public Official 1 told Person A that he would look into “fixing” the cement parcel. On or about March 13, 2020, Public Official 1 told Person A that he would see what he could do “about the cement” and then “settle” with Person A who responded, “That’s fine.”
On or about March 16, 2020, Official 1 met with Flores to discuss the cement parcel. He told Flores that could “fix the cement” for Person A in exchange for “milanesa” (slang for $1000) and asked if Flores would communicate that to Person A. Flores told Public Official 1 that he would “arrange for that for you today,” and would “convince him (Person A) for you today.” Flores added, “I am expert at that,” and “nobody beats me at that shit.” Flores confirmed with Public Official 1 that the value of the cement parcel would be reduced so Person A would pay less in taxes. Flores said he would approach Person A that day and would probably have the “paper” for Public Official 1 by the weekend. Flores added, “You know that I am awesome at that.”
On or about March 19, 2020, Public Official 1 met with Flores in Flores’s office in Nogales, Arizona. Flores told Public Official 1 that he talked to “the friend” and told him about Public Official 1’s “proposition” regarding the $1,000. Flores then stated, “he sent you two” and handed Public Official 1 an envelope containing $2,000 cash. Public Official 1 asked Flores if he told Person A that Public Official 1 was “going to arrange the cement thing for him.” Flores responded, “Yes, he was very pleased. I explained it to him.” Public Official 1 replied, “Okay, so then we are agreed that I will arrange it for him.” Flores said “Yes, it’s all set.”
That concludes the complaint against Flores and no further charges against Public Official 1 or Person A have been filed at this time, assuming the investigation continues. At the time of the alleged bribe, the elected SCC public official with authority over property valuations for purposes of assessing taxes was Assessor Filipe Fuentes. According to the Nogales International, within two weeks after the alleged bribe, Fuentes submitted his resignation with 22 years in office and nine months remaining on his term.
There are many facts yet to be developed and/or released regarding Public Official 1 and Person A (and possibly others) making it difficult to develop conclusions at this time. A statement from County officials has not been released. As additional information becomes available the PRT will continue to update our readers.