Anaheim to Release Investigation Into Angel Stadium Sale to FBI, California AG

Anaheim to Release Investigation Into Angel Stadium Sale to FBI, California AG

Angel Stadium in Anaheim, Calif., on Sept. 16, 2020. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Jill McLaughlin

Jill McLaughlin

7/20/2023

Updated: 12/30/2023

The Anaheim City Council has approved releasing details of its independent investigation into corruption allegations surrounding the sale of Angel Stadium to state Attorney General Rob Bonta and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
Councilors voted unanimously July 18 to waive attorney-client privilege relating to a 200-page report by the JL Group, a Laguna Niguel-based investigative firm, in order to provide the reports even though they haven’t yet seen a copy.
A redacted version of the report will also be made public by the end of the month, according to Kristin Pelletier, Anaheim’s chief assistant city attorney.
However, Mr. Bonta and the FBI will receive unredacted copies.
At the meeting, some councilors agreed with allowing outside law enforcement to review the findings.
“I am supportive of allowing the Attorney General’s Office to get the unredacted report as well as the FBI,” Councilman Carlos Leon said. “I think it’s important that we have law enforcement agencies with subpoena power and with the ability to bring charges if necessary.”
An Anaheim City Council meeting in Anaheim, Calif., on July 18, 2023. (Anaheim City Council/Screenshot via The Epoch Times)

An Anaheim City Council meeting in Anaheim, Calif., on July 18, 2023. (Anaheim City Council/Screenshot via The Epoch Times)

The JL Group was tasked with investigating corruption or inappropriate conduct in the proposed sale of the stadium under former Mayor Harry Sidhu, including a lease agreement with the Angels baseball team. Investigators were also asked to examine the conduct of city and local elected officials, city staff, consultants, lobbyists, and others involved in the deals.
The probe included auditing campaign contributions, communications, and possible conflicts of interest involving former city councilors, Mr. Sidhu, and any person, business, or organization involved. They also looked into open meeting law violations.
Councilman Jose Diaz, who is one of only two councilors who remain on the council after November’s election, said he had some concerns that the councilors had not yet seen what was in the report.
“I’m being asked here to relinquish my rights, but I really don’t know the facts here,” Mr. Diaz said during the council meeting Tuesday.
Angel Stadium in Anaheim, Calif., on Sept. 16, 2020. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Angel Stadium in Anaheim, Calif., on Sept. 16, 2020. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

The previous City Council directed staff in November 2022 to immediately release the report to the public upon completion. However, the JL Group and Judge Clay Smith, a retired Orange County Superior Court judge hired to oversee the probe as a neutral party, raised concerns about releasing it publicly, saying it would compromise attorney-client privilege and possibly violate employee private rights, according to a staff report.
In May, the current City Council decided to retain outside counsel to review the report and redact the information before the public release.
In August 2022, the city’s previous city council chose the JL Group to investigate corruption alleged by the FBI in two affidavits released earlier that year. The council also selected Judge Smith at that time.
The FBI released affidavits (pdf) in May 2022 that revealed a possible play-for-play scheme involving Mr. Sidhu and the Angeles baseball team owner Arte Moreno’s management company.
The bureau’s investigators focused on an alleged deal made between the two parties during negotiations for the sale of the city-owned Angel Stadium.
The council voided the sale shortly after the FBI allegations were made public and Mr. Sidhu resigned, though he has not been charged with a crime.
Within the first few months, the cost of the JL Group’s investigation doubled to $1.5 million, which new city councilors approved in March.
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Jill McLaughlin

Jill McLaughlin

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Jill McLaughlin is an award-winning journalist covering politics, environment, and statewide issues. She has been a reporter and editor for newspapers in Oregon, Nevada, and New Mexico. Jill was born in Yosemite National Park and enjoys the majestic outdoors, traveling, golfing, and hiking.

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