Report Pending on Santa Ana Mayor’s Property Swap

Santa Ana City Attorney Sonia Carvalho said Monday she is investigating a questionable property swap involving Mayor Miguel Pulido and will likely report back to the City Council at its next regular meeting in two weeks.

Last month, Voice of OC reported that in 2010, Rupen James Akoubian, president of NAPA Orange County Auto Parts, sold a Westminster home to the Pulido family for $230,000 less than fair market value. Then in 2012, the mayor sold the home at a $197,000 profit.

During the nearly two years between those transactions, Pulido voted for two separate contracts for NAPA Orange County Auto Parts, including a three-year contract in 2011 worth $1.35 million that made the Santa Ana-based NAPA store the city’s exclusive auto parts provider.

Good-government experts questioned whether the home represented an illegal gift to the mayor, if not worse.

At the last council meeting, a couple of residents demanded an investigation into questions raised by the Voice of OC article. Carvalho said at the time that she hadn’t been formally asked by the City Council to conduct such a probe.

Nonetheless, Carvalho confirmed to reporters at Monday’s council meeting that she has been reviewing the circumstances presented in the article. She said that nobody had directed her to investigate the situation but that it was her responsibility under the city charter to look into “allegations that might impact city contracts.”

There will also be “options on how to respond” in her upcoming report to the council, Carvalho said. She refused to disclose what those options could entail, saying she didn’t want to comment prematurely.

On Dec. 30, the council’s ethics subcommittee will consider creating a process to handle such allegations in the future, she said.

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