Anaheim city executives say they can’t find a copy of an email the FBI has showing former Mayor Harry Sidhu and other city council members and city executives working with the LA Angels behind the scenes to help sell the team Angel Stadium at a discount. 

A sale deemed illegal by state officials last year as they fined the city and allowed the sale to continue. 

Until an FBI corruption probe hit weeks later last May, detailing how disgraced former Mayor Harry Sidhu leaked critical information to Angels representatives in an effort to ram the stadium sale through for $1 million in campaign contributions. 

In his signed plea agreement on public corruption charges, Sidhu stated he received an email on Sept. 20, 2020 from an Angels consultant laying out how he and other city council members were expected to perform during the city council meeting to approve the sale. 

[Read: Ex-Anaheim Mayor Sidhu Agrees to Plead Guilty to Corruption Charges]

In exchange for his work securing Angel Stadium, Sidhu said he was expecting a $1 million campaign contribution from the Angels – something he admitted to lying to federal investigators about, according to the plea agreement.

“That email message included an attachment … which listed individuals who would be participating in mock City Council meetings about the Angel Stadium sale in advance of the actual City Council meeting for that proposed sale,” federal prosecutors wrote in the agreement. 

But city attorney Rob Fabela says they can’t find a copy of that letter after Voice of OC asked for it through the California Public Records Act. 

“Despite a diligent search, the City is unable to locate a record that falls within the scope of your request,” Fabela wrote in a statement. 

According to the former mayor’s plea agreement, Sidhu was assigned to play himself and be a “strong defender of the deal,” while then Mayor Pro Tem Stephen Faessel was to “focus on benefits,” to his district and the positivity of the Angels’ history in Anaheim. 

A third, unnamed council member was expected to “focus on benefits to Whole City,” and highlight the economic benefits of the Angels’ presence in Anaheim. 

While it remains unclear if the mock meetings occurred, Sidhu’s plea agreement confirmed the email was sent out. 

Sidhu admitted to deleting the email in the plea agreement, but noted copies were also sent to Faessel and the unnamed council member, along with City Communications Officer Mike Lyster and an unnamed city staffer. 

The former mayor has agreed to plead guilty to obstruction of justice, wire fraud, lying to federal investigators, and making false statements to the Federal Aviation Administration. 

All city employees and council members are required by law under the California Public Records Act not to erase public records sent from their personal or work email accounts that deal with public policy.  

After weeks of silence on the issue, Faessel publicly denied having anything to do with the mock council meetings at the council’s Tuesday night meeting. 

“While there is evidence the email was indeed sent, I have no recollection of participating in those three meetings, or any record of attending them,” Faessel said. “I was never influenced by some pre-ordained plan.” 

Despite that, Faessel defended the concept of having council members seemingly collectively prepare for upcoming approvals at meetings. 

Faessel said he’d participated in multiple “agenda review meetings,” with other council members, adding that such meetings were “ethical,” and “common,” across government agencies.   

He then went on to defend the stadium deal, pointing out how it would bring more parks to his district and ensure strong union jobs. 

“I still think it would’ve tremendously benefited our community,” Faessel said. 

During his comments on Tuesday, he listed three of the six positive talking points about the deal that were outlined in the Sept. 26 email he said he hadn’t read, such as advertising the number of parks it would bring to his district and the union jobs it would bring.

Lyster has not responded to multiple requests for comment regarding the email, including questions over whether or not he has a copy. 

The email was also sent to Angels President Jon Carpino, an unnamed Senior Vice President, and former Chamber of Commerce CEO Todd Ament, who has also pleaded guilty to multiple charges in connection with the corruption probe. 

There is only one Senior Vice President position listed on the Angels website, which is Molly Jolly, Senior VP for Finance and Administration, a position she has held for the last 20 years according to the Angels’ website.  

A majority of current city council members had a secret lunch at Angel Stadium with Chamber of Commerce representatives, Carpino and Jolly in June.

[Read: Did the Anaheim City Council Violate California’s Open Meeting Laws?]

So far, the team has remained mostly quiet about Sidhu’s guilty plea, sending out a short statement denying any illegality. 

“It is important to note both the Plea Agreement along with the City’s investigation showed no evidence of any wrongdoing by the Angels Organization,” said Angels’ spokesperson Marie Garvey. 

Noah Biesiada is a Voice of OC reporter and corps member with Report for America, a GroundTruth initiative. Contact him at or on Twitter @NBiesiada.


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