Santa Ana Replaces Controversial Auto Parts Contractor

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Santa Ana City Council this week chose Warren Distributing to supply auto parts to the city’s vehicle fleet, replacing a previous contract with NAPA Orange County Auto Parts that triggered state and local corruption probes.

In 2010, Mayor Miguel Pulido and his family swapped a parking lot they owned for a house in Westminster owned by Rupen James Akoubian, president of NAPA Orange County Auto Parts. The Pulidos received the house for $230,000 below fair market value, according to public records.

Later, according to the records, the mayor sold the house at a nearly $200,000 profit, and Akoubian was awarded a $1.35 million, no-bid contract to provide auto parts to the city.

The Orange County District Attorney’s Office and Fair Political Practices Commission are investigating the series of transactions, which ethics experts have said could be a bribery scheme. Meanwhile, Pulido has started a legal defense fund and hired the prominent criminal defense attorney Al Stokke, according to several sources.

In light of the controversy, the city allowed the NAPA Orange County Auto Parts contract to expire in July, opting not to exercise a renewal option.

Pulido and council approved the contract with Warren Distributing in a 6-0 vote, with Councilman Sal Tinajero absent. The agreement was approved as a routine consent calendar item without comment.

An earlier version of this article misspelled the name of criminal defense attorney Al Stokke. We regret the error.

Please contact Adam Elmahrek directly at aelmahrek@voiceofoc.org and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/adamelmahrek

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