Attorney General Calls for Pause on Angels Stadium Sale Amid FBI Corruption Probe

The FBI says it has found probable cause of corruption by Anaheim Mayor Harry Sidhu involving the sale of Anaheim Stadium. California Attorney General Rob Bonta is now calling for a 60-day pause on the controversial transaction.

The revelations were made in an FBI affidavit filed Monday in Orange County Superior Court. In the affidavit, FBI special agent Brian Adkins says there is evidence Sidhu tried to ram the sale through in the hopes of getting money for his re-election.

“I believe Sidhu illustrated his intent to solicit campaign contributions, in the amount of $1,000,000 … in exchange for performing official acts intended to finalize the stadium sale for the Angels,” Adkins wrote.

The evidence was partly gleaned from wiretapped conversations between Sidhu and confidantes.

The affidavit said there is evidence Sidhu provided confidential information about the land appraisal to the team during the city’s negotiations “with the expectation of receiving a sizeable contribution to his reelection campaign from a prominent Angels representative.”

Atkins further accused Sidhu of thwarting a Grand Jury investigation into the sale. During the investigation, Sidhu allegedly met with an FBI informant and told them to lie to the Grand Jury about their conversations. The affidavit suggests Sidhu may be guilty of fraud, theft or bribery, false statements, obstruction of justice, and witness tampering.

The affidavit does not accuse the team or other city officials of corruption. It does say that “the City of Anaheim was tightly controlled by a small cadre of individuals, including SIDHU, a particular member of the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce, and others,” however.

“We are troubled by this,” Anaheim City Manager Jim Vanderpool said in a statement. “Throughout this process, Anaheim staff and the City Council have worked in good faith on a proposal that offered benefits for our community.

“What has been shared with us was unknown to the city administration before today, and what is being described falls outside of the city’s process on the stadium.”

Neither Sidhu’s attorney nor the team wished to comment.

“What I was most concerned about seems to be playing out,” said Anaheim Councilman Jose Moreno, who has been an outspoken critic of the stadium land sale.

“At the end of the day, out of this illegal land sale, [Angels owner Arte Moreno] and the city of Anaheim’s leadership are continuing to maximize the private profits for Arte Moreno and the private interests of the development site, and not looking out for the public benefits.”

The stadium is being sold for $320 million to SRB Management, LLC, which is owned by Arte Moreno. State officials had said the sale violated the Surplus Land Act and fined the city $96 million late last month. Under an agreement between Anaheim and the state, the fine was supposed be used to fund roughly 1,000 affordable housing units around the city.

That agreement is now in limbo. An employee with the Attorney General’s Office said Monday that “the validity of the Stipulation for Entry of Judgment could also be in question based on the information stated in the affidavit.”

A court hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, May 17 at 11:45 a.m. at the North Justice Center in Fullerton.

Read more at the Orange County Register, Voice of OC, and Los Angeles Times.

UPDATE: The entire City Council has called on Mayor Sidhu to resign.