Target of FBI Probe Was 2012 Electoral College Delegate

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By Peter Lance © August 3rd, 2014 The initial target of an ongoing probe by the FBI investigating possible VA fraud, was the Electoral College  delegate from the 24th congressional district who cast a vote for President Obama in 2012. Mollie Culver, the District Director for Cong. Lois Capps (D-CA) is the former political director for the California Democratic Party (CDP). She also played a key role in the election of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti in 2013. The year before that she held one of the 55 coveted slots in the state’s 2012 Electoral College delegation.

The investigation by the DOJ’s Public Integrity Section became public last month when two special agents from the Bureau’s Santa Maria, Resident Agency (RA) began examining allegations first published in a five-part investigative series on this website also printed in The Santa Barbara News-Press titled “Death on The American Riviera.”

In part four of the series, “Damage Control,” I presented documentary evidence that Ms. Culver forged two separate Department of Veterans Affairs forms in an effort to get her immediate subordinate, Raymond Victor Morua III, a District Representative for Mrs. Capps, out of jail and into a VA-funded treatment facility. The scheme, in which Ms. Culver was allegedly abetted by personnel in Mrs. Capps’ Washington office, began after Mr. Morua’s arrest on December 6th, 2013 for felony DUI and hit-and-run charges.

Prior to the crash which took the life of 27-year-old UCSB graduate Mallory Rae Dies, Mr. Morua had attended the annual “Holiday Bash,” sponsored by The Santa Barbara Independent, a local newsweekly, during which he represented Mrs. Capps. As the congresswoman’s “go to” representative for veterans affairs, Mr. Morua, a decorated Iraq war vet, often appeared with her at public events carrying a Captain America shield.

That night after leaving the party at The Savoy Nightclub in downtown Santa Barbara, Mr. Morua texted Ms. Culver between 11:14 and 11:19 p.m. Then, minutes later, he got into his 2007 Dodge Caliber with a blood alcohol level of .17, more than twice the legal limit and struck Ms. Dies who was crossing the 500 block of Anacapa Street in Santa Barbara on her way to EOS Lounge at 12:04 a.m.

Mr. Morua then took off, running several red lights as he was pursued by a civilian motorist at speeds reaching 80 mph. He crashed several miles away and was quickly apprehended by police.

But just before his arrest at 12:06 a.m. he texted his then fiancée Teresa Montoya with the words, “Baby, I’m done.”

Ms. Dies, was rushed to Santa Barbara’s Cottage Hospital with a severe brain injury and succumbed after five days in intensive care. Following her death her organs were donated to save five other lives.

In mid April Mr. Morua took responsibility for his role in the manslaughter death, pled guilty and was sentenced May 28th to from twenty years to life in prison. He’s now serving his sentence as Wasco State Prison in Kern County. But after going to extraordinary lengths to help him in the days immediately following the accident, Ms. Culver disowned Mr. Morua after Ms. Dies’ death and told the lead police investigator that he was unauthorized to be at the holiday party.

However, the evidence that Mr. Morua was working for Mrs. Capps at The Holiday Bash, during which he drank six vodkas after consuming two bourbons at dinner and the documentary proof that his boss, Ms. Culver, broke federal law to help him in the initial days after the crash, is contained in Part Two of my series, “Everybody Loved Raymond.”

MRS. CAPPS’ DENIAL OF RESPONSIBILITY

An attorney for the Dies family has filed a civil action against Mrs. Capps, Mr. Morua and a series of yet unnamed parties. But in late December Mary Beth Walker, an attorney for the Office of General Council in the U.S. House, took the position that Mr. Morua was “acting in his personal capacity” in the hours before the crash. As a result, if the Government prevails in court, the Dies family could be denied compensation for hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills and the loss of their daughter.

My investigation proved, by at least a civil standard -preponderance of the evidence – that Mr. Morua was on the job the night of the accident; working the room at The Savoy party and interacting with dozens of political, media and foundation officials on behalf of Mrs. Capps. In fact, as late as 45 minutes before the crash he texted with his boss, Ms. Culver. 

One of the questions which lawyers for the Dies’ family will seek to answer is just how aware Mrs. Capps’ staff was of Mr. Morua’s prior criminal record.

Before becoming a District Representative in 2012 Mr. Morua was convicted of two DUI’s and a hit-and-run and a separate charge of grand theft embezzlement, serving a 10-day term including jail & community service while working in Mrs. Capps’ office.

EVIDENCE OF FORGERY

As documented in the series, the evidence demonstrates that on December 9th, three days after the accident, Ms. Culver forged Mr. Morua’s name in three places on the two forms; the first of which (Form 10-5345) requested the release of his personal medical records to Mrs. Capps office and the second (Form 10-10 EZ) requested the authorization of VA benefits to pay for Mr. Morua’s stay at New Directions, an alcohol treatment center in Los Angeles. The fraudulent use of either form can result in stiff fines or imprisonment.

But on December 11th, immediately after Ms. Dies was declared brain dead and removed from life support, Ms. Culver did a 180-degree turn and denounced Mr. Morua; claiming that he was not authorized to attend the invitation-only Holiday Bash.

SERIES PROMPTS THE FEDERAL PROBE

Following publication of my series Mrs. Capps described it as “full of inaccuracies” but refused to give any specifics.

After she repeatedly answered “no comment” to questions about Ms. Culver’s actions or her own possible knowledge of Mr. Morua’s criminal record, Matt Dies, the father of the victim, got 1,000 signatures on a petition asking Mrs. Capps to tell the truth about my findings and for Santa Barbara District Attorney Joyce Dudley to request a special federal prosecutor to investigate the evidence I uncovered. In early May Ms. Dudley sent the 5-part series to André Birotte Jr., the U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California in Los Angeles, who then referred it to the Public Integrity Section (PIN) of Justice. The investigation commenced in late May.

On May 27th Marquest J. Meeks, a trial lawyer in the Public Integrity Section’s Criminal Division, traveled to Santa Barbara where he interviewed Ms. Montoya in the presence of Special Agents Dieter Willkomm and Marni Barton of the FBI’s Santa Maria RA. Later that day the two agents interviewed Mr. Morua, who was still in Santa Barbara County Jail and on June 2nd they interviewed his mother, Rose Saucedo.

It’s the policy of the Bureau and DOJ to neither confirm nor deny the existence of ongoing investigations, but the commencement of the probe was reported by The News-Press, The Associated Press and The Los Angeles Times. Further, Chris Meagher, Mrs. Capps press secretary confirmed the investigation on June 11th for KSBY-TV calling it a “fact finding inquiry.”

Due to the secrecy surrounding the investigation it’s not publicly known whether federal investigators have questioned Mrs. Capps, Ms. Culver or any staffers in the congresswoman’s D.C. office, who sent the partially filled-out VA forms to Ms. Culver by fax on December 9th  It’s also unknown whether they have interviewed any of the local law enforcement officials who may have abetted Ms. Culver in perpetrating the get-out-of-jail-and-into-treatment scheme. Ms. Montoya has said that when she was questioned by the Feds she was specifically asked about her dealings with Ms. Culver.

MOLLIE CULVER AS AN OBAMA ELECTORAL DELEGATE

It’s also unclear at this point how many Electoral College delegates, if any, have been targets of federal criminal investigations so close to their tenure as presidential electors, but William Canfield III, former counsel to the U.S. Senate Ethics Committee put the current probe in perspective: “Being an electoral college delegate is holding a Constitutional office and therefore is encumbered with a high level of responsibility and moral turpitude.”

The delegates are typically chosen in recognition of their service to the state political party. Not only was Ms. Culver Mrs. Capps’2012 campaign manager, but from May, 2009 to 2010 she served as the California Democratic Party’s political director. On May 21st, 2013, the day of the L.A. Mayoral election, Ms. Culver was cited on Eric Garcetti’s website as one of two point persons designated to thwart voter fraud. Ms. Culver’s cell phone number listed on that site was the same one she used in the VA Form 10-10-EZ in the box for Raymond Victor Morua’s “Home Telephone Number;” listing herself “Mollie” as his contact in the Application For Health Benefits.

That form, on which Ms. Culver filled out all of his personal information in blue ink and forged Mr. Morua’s signature, warns of potential “fines and/or imprisonment for up to 5 years, for concealing a material fact or making a material misstatement of fact.”

According to Legistorm, a website that tracks Members of Congress and their staffs, Ms. Culver began working for Mrs. Capps after the Garcetti election. She was paid $36,500.02 in 2013 and her salary through the first quarter of 2014 was $18,083.33. 

An email sent to Ms. Culver requesting her response to the FBI investigation went unanswered. Chris Meagher, Mrs. Capps press secretary who attended “The Holiday Bash” with Mr. Morua did not return my phone call requesting a comment for this piece.

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