Anaheim’s Angel Stadium land sale was temporarily halted by Orange County Superior Court Judge Glenn Salter stemming from a public corruption probe into Mayor Harry Sidhu’s negotiations with the team.
The city was poised to finalize a stipulated judgment with California Attorney General Rob Bonta and the state Housing and Community Development Department for violating the Surplus Land Act when council members decided to sell the stadium in late 2019.
“We will continue this ex parte for 60 days … in the meantime the court will not sign the stipulated judgement.” Salter said Monday afternoon.
Salter granted Bonta’s 60-day hold on the stipulated judgment.
“We are seriously concerned about new information we have received about this deal and are asking the court to pause its consideration of the stipulated judgment in light of this information,” officials from Bonta’s office said in a Monday email
A sworn affidavit from an FBI agent named Brian Adkins in Bonta’s abrupt Monday court filing casted doubt on the whole process.
Federal officials allege that Sidhu tried ramming the deal through this year so he could get his reelection campaign financed by the Angels – likely through a political action committee, which typically spends money on mailers and other political advertising.
“I am hoping to get at least a million from I’m going to be pushing it. [Angels Representative 1] actually asked me. [Angels Representative 1] said, ‘What can I do for your election?’ I said, ‘Let me finish your deal first, and then we’ll talk about that,’” Sidhu said to an unnamed Chamber of Commerce employee in a recorded phone call, according to Adkins’ affidavit.
Now, the future of the Angel Stadium land sale is uncertain.
Before Monday’s explosive court filing, state housing officials urged Anaheim city council members to reconsider the updated land sale.
“We have reviewed the revised development agreement. The City of Anaheim and SRB’s transaction violated the Surplus Land Act. The revised development agreement is evidence that the City of Anaheim and SRB don’t take our enforcement and affordable housing seriously. HCD will exercise everything in our power to hold them accountable. We encourage the city council to reject the revised development agreement,” reads a Monday email from Housing and Community Development officials.
“In assessing this developing situation, plaintiffs have a good faith belief that the parties’ agreement to enter into the Stipulation—through no fault of the named parties—may be void. New and developing information concerning potential violations of state and federal law, such as Government Code Section 1090, the Brown Act, and other federal offenses set forth in the affidavit submitted in support of the federal warrant, are likely to be forthcoming,” reads the Attorney General’s filing.
Sidhu also tried thwarting an OC Grand Jury Investigation into the stadium sale and told an unnamed Anaheim Chamber of Commerce employee to lie to jurors, according to Adkins’ affidavit.
“I believe there are several motivating factors driving SIDHU to go to such lengths (i.e., concealing and/or destroying evidence and instructing CW2 to make false statements to the grand jury), including maintaining his reputation in Anaheim, and ensuring his reelection in November 2022 is unaffected by any revelation of impropriety,” Adkins said in his sworn affidavit.
Adkins, through recorded conversations between Sidhu and the employee, determined the Mayor was using the Angel Stadium deal to get campaign contributions from the team.
“I also believe, based on recorded conversations conducted between CW2 and SIDHU, and as illustrated below, that another motivating factor was SIDHU’s intention to solicit monetary compensation from an individual, in the form of campaign contributions, in exchange for pushing the stadium deal through on more favorable terms for the Angels,” the FBI agent said in the court filing.
In a recorded January conversation between Sidhu and the chamber employee, the unnamed employee indicated Sidhu had sent appraisal information to him through an email – something Adkins says Sidhu also gave to the Angels.
“For lying to a grand jury. So like you know, appraisal information, any of that. Is any of that in your text or emails? Of you gave us kind of the ranges of the appraisal,” the employee told Sidhu, according to the affidavit.
Sidhu said he didn’t hand over any emails “between you, me” and a political consultant.
“It was my private emails on even my text and all that with you, I erased everything,” Sidhu said, according to the affidavit.
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