Two Hanford lawmakers cleared of corruption allegations


Hanford City Council members Art Brieno and Francisco Ramirez are clear on allegations that they took bribes in pursuit of favorable government action by a local businessman.

The Kings County Sheriff’s Office announced earlier in August that no evidence had been found from the allegations.

Detectives began their investigation in May after the two councilors were accused of receiving a $400 bribe from Richard Aguilar, owner of the Richard Aguilar and Sons auto repair shop in Hanford.

According to the Kings County Sheriff’s Office, no formal complaint has been filed, but the California Attorney General’s office has received an informal letter.

The letter claimed that Brieno and Ramirez demanded and accepted bribes in July 2020 from Aguilar after his auto shop was shut down by city code enforcement.

However, the letter did not lead to an investigation by the California Department of Justice or the Kings County District Attorney’s Office.

Detectives investigated the auto shop involved in the allegation and found no evidence after the company fully cooperated and showed its accounting records.

The letter also alleged there was a witness to the bribery, but the alleged witness told detectives he never witnessed a bribe.

Brieno and Ramirez’s exoneration is the latest of the controversial events that have surrounded them during their time on the board.

Brieno is the subject of 16 allegations of harassment from the city’s former director of community development, Darlene Mata.

An independent investigation commissioned by the city found that 14 of the allegations were supported by evidence.

Mata filed a government claim for a $1.25 million settlement, but the city chose not to settle.

This led Mata to take legal action against Hanford and Brieno over the harassment and discrimination allegations.

She also named Ramirez in the lawsuit for advocating for the lifting of the censorship that was imposed on Brieno last year.

In May, Hanford City Council approved an agreement with Visalia-based Farley Law Firm to represent councillors.


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