Would-be Clean City Commission appointee turned down because of criminal past

Left to right: Larry Carver, Stuart Yocum, Michael Moreno

Left to right: Larry Carver, Stuart Yocum, Michael Moreno

KINGMAN - City Councilman Stuart Yocum lobbied hard for an appointment to the Clean City Commission for his friend Michael Moreno.

Moreno, 23, told the Council at Tuesday's meeting he moved to Kingman a decade ago from the Los Angeles area. He failed to mention that nearly two years of the decade were spent in prison.

"I want to help the community as much as possible," he told the Council. "I'm young, outgoing. I want to help the city progress ... I just want to be part of the community."

Yocum, who did not identify Moreno as a personal friend during the discussion, recommended the Council appoint Moreno and Richard Wing to the Clean City Commission.

That's when comments from Councilman Larry Carver made what appeared to be a routine appointment into something else entirely.

"Mr. Moreno has an extensive criminal history," said Carver. "Most recently for DUI, again. His history goes back to 2007."

The DUI arrest Carver mentioned occurred on Feb. 16. After the meeting, Yocum acknowledged he was a passenger in Moreno's car when Kingman Police arrested his friend on the DUI.

That history, according to multiple court databases, also includes a term in the Arizona Department of Corrections after Moreno broke probation on a second-degree burglary conviction in Mohave County in 2010 for a crime committed in 2009.

According to state prison records, Moreno was admitted in July 2011 and released in March 2013. He pleaded guilty and the charge was reduced from first- to second-degree burglary.

Moreno was previously arrested on a DUI in Kingman, on Feb. 9, 2015, a year and a day before his second arrest. The city dismissed the complaint last August, according to Kingman Municipal Court records. He also has been convicted of a misdemeanor charge of falsely reporting a fire or bomb threat or other emergency in 2014, and several other misdemeanors in Kingman's justice and municipal courts.

Carver said he would "like to see Moreno keep a clean record for a longer length of time" if he wishes to serve the city.

Despite Carver's revelation - and despite the fact city staff warned him beforehand that Moreno's background would be a point of discussion in the public meeting - Yocum stuck to his guns.

"I will stand by my original motion," he said. "I don't necessarily want to block anyone from wanting to better themselves."

Yocum said Moreno is aware of his "error in judgment," but his colleagues were unwilling to go forward. His motion died.

Clean City Commission member Ralph Bowman addressed the Council. He was one of four commissioners who voted to recommend Moreno for appointment. Carver's comments, said Bowman, gave him a reason to reconsider.

"I withdraw my vote on him in light of this information," said Bowman.

Councilman Mark Abram agreed with Carver, saying there needs to be a period of "probation or reflection" on Moreno's part. "It's not that we wouldn't consider him in the future, even the near future," said Abram.

Mayor Richard Anderson said it was important to recognize citizens who are willing to get involved in the city's commissions and boards.

"I appreciate Mr. Moreno. I think he's sincere, but I believe we have a potential for conflict when we have prisoners there (as inmate labor provided at Clean City Commission cleanup events)," said Anderson. "I hope this doesn't deter anyone from taking the path to redeeming themselves."

After Tuesday's meeting, Yocum said, "I just think everybody should get a second chance. He's a good guy. He needs a second chance and I'm a second-chance kind of guy."

Yocum did not respond when asked why he didn't disclose his friendship with Moreno during the public meeting.