Questions regarding the identities of two former 2018 Irvine City Council members involved in the federal investigation surrounding Melahat Rafiei still remain.
In a plea agreement sign with the FBI, Rafiei plead guilty to alleged wire fraud. The FBI investigation confirmed that the funds, more than $200,000, was to be sent to two Irvine council members that have yet to be identified.
Irvine Weekly attempted to reach all five of the previously elected council officials in an effort to identify the unnamed members listed in the recent FBI plea agreement, signed by Rafiei last month.
Former Irvine Mayor Christina Shea spoke willingly with Irvine Weekly, adding that she had been contacted by the FBI regarding the matter, but said the agency only had questions, not answers nor explanations.
The allegations involving Rafiei stem from her attempt to bribe City Council members into passing retail cannabis regulations in Irvine. In 2023, Irvine is still a city without a cannabis dispensary.
Shea said she does not support retail cannabis locations in Irvine, however, did vote in favor of a testing facility while on the Council.
“I was very clear that I was not a supporter of cannabis. I didn’t smoke it or use it, and I didn’t believe in retail cannabis,” Shea said during a phone call with Irvine Weekly. “I’ve never met Melahat Rafiei. I know who she is, but I’ve never met her personally — she’s never approached me, never called me.”
Attempts to reach former councilwoman Melissa Fox via text and by phone went unanswered.
A list of questions sent to Supervisor Don Wagner’s assistant regarding his involvement with Melahat Refiei and questions regarding his cooperation with the federal investigation were not returned.
Jeff Lalloway, is listed as an active attorney on the State Bar Association’s website. However, the phone number and website listed for his O.C. Divorce law firm is no longer active.
Lynn Schott could not be reached regarding comment on the federal investigation.
In 2016, Schott ran for congress in California District 46, falling short of winner Lou Correa. In documents filed with the Federal Elections Commission, Schott’s campaign brought in a total of $96,584, according to the campaign tracking website OpenSecrets.org.
This is a developing story.
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