Former Anaheim Mayor Enters Guilty Plea

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Former Anaheim Mayor Enters Guilty Plea

Then Mayor of Anaheim Harry Sidhu at a coronavirus vaccination center set up in a parking area of Disneyland theme park in Anaheim, Calif., on Jan, 13, 2021. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Rudy Blalock

Rudy Blalock

9/15/2023

Updated: 12/30/2023

Former Anaheim Mayor Harry Sidhu pleaded guilty Sept. 15 to federal charges linked to the now-defunct sale of Angels Stadium in Orange County, California.
Charges include obstruction of justice, wire fraud, and lying to federal investigators in relation to his effort to sell the city-owned stadium in 2020, according to court documents.
Sentencing was set for June 14.
“We are aware of and tracking the court proceedings and welcome them as part of a larger process to move our city past the issues that came to light in 2022,” city spokesperson Mike Lyster told The Epoch Times in an emailed statement.
After a plea deal of the former mayor was announced last month, U.S. Attorney Joseph T. McNally issued a statement regarding Mr. Sidhu’s actions.
“While serving as Anaheim’s mayor, Mr. Sidhu took a series of actions that compromised the city’s negotiating position by providing confidential information and secretly working to influence the city’s decision-making process—all of which had a detrimental effect on the city and its residents,” he said.
In court documents, prosecutors allege that during the city’s 2020 negotiations to sell the stadium to the Angels, Mr. Sidhu provided “confidential inside information” to an Angels consultant and then-Anaheim Chamber of Commerce Co-President Todd Ament.
They further alleged Mr. Sidhu was later caught on audio tape saying he expected a $1 million campaign contribution from the baseball team in exchange for the information he provided.
Mr. Sidhu resigned last year after an affidavit was released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation alleging he was involved in the corruption. Mr. Ament pleaded guilty last year to federal charges of wire fraud, making a false statement to a financial institution, and subscribing to a false tax return. He hasn’t been sentenced but cooperated with federal authorities investigating Mr. Sidhu.
According to the plea agreement, to throw off any investigation by the FBI over public corruption, Mr. Sidhu later destroyed multiple emails and documents related to his communications with the consultant and Mr. Ament involving the proposed sale of the stadium.
One of the emails allegedly destroyed by Mr. Sidhu detailed plans for mock city council meetings, which were to prepare the then city council and Angels officials for the actual meeting where the stadium sale would be discussed, according to prosecutors.
A prepared agenda for one of those mock meetings is included in the plea agreement, in which Angels officials and city councilors would “run through a mock council session straight through one time at the start to identify pitfalls and areas of vulnerability.” The session would include Angels officials “to help develop ‘zingers,’ responses and other points to improve performance,” the court papers read.
According to the prosecutors, Mr. Sidhu also admitted that he lied about the Angels stadium sale negotiations to FBI investigators, by telling them he wasn’t expecting any campaign contributions from the ball club.
He also admitted to lying to the Federal Aviation Administration about his purchase and registration of a helicopter, which he bought listing a home address in Arizona despite living in Anaheim, which amounts to tax fraud by avoiding nearly $16,000 in California sales taxes, prosecutors said.
Mr. Sidhu faces up to 10 years in prison for obstruction of justice, 20 years for wire fraud and five years each for the two false statement charges, they said.
“Former Mayor Sidhu appreciates the thorough investigation by the United States Attorneys Office leading to this fair settlement.  He deeply regrets these violations,” Mr. Sidhu’s attorney, Paul Meyer, told The Epoch Times in a statement.
City News Service Contributed to this report.
Rudy Blalock

Rudy Blalock

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Rudy Blalock is a Southern California-based daily news reporter for The Epoch Times. Originally from Michigan, he moved to California in 2017, and the sunshine and ocean have kept him here since. In his free time, he may be found underwater scuba diving, on top of a mountain hiking or snowboarding—or at home meditating, which helps fuel his active lifestyle.

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