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Settlement allowing $320 million sale of Angel Stadium put on hold amid FBI corruption probe of Mayor Harry Sidhu

Sale of Angel Stadium put on hold amid FBI corruption probe of Mayor Harry Sidhu
Sale of Angel Stadium put on hold amid FBI corruption probe of Mayor Harry Sidhu 03:35

The $320 million sale of Angel Stadium was put on hold Tuesday due to an ongoing FBI corruption probe of Mayor Harry Sidhu and other local officials, including an Angels executive.

The FBI says it has a secret telephone recording of Sidhu soliciting a payment of $1 million to finalize a deal to sell Angel Stadium to Los Angeles Angels owner Arte Moreno's development company. He has also been accused of leaking confidential information about the sale to the team. 

The sudden turn of events stunned Anaheim's city leaders.

"What has been shared is news to all of us," Anaheim Mayor Pro Tem Trevor O'Neil said at Tuesday night's meeting. "And the issues raised are concerning and something that we take very seriously. At this point, we don't yet know all of the facts and we need to respect the process for our meeting here tonight."

Sidhu was not at the meeting.

According to court documents, an FBI agent got the cooperation of an associate of Sidhu to record conversations with him.

"Because I, I've said, you gotta at least minimum of a million dollars to come up with my election. They have to," Sidhu said in the recordings, according to court documents. "And of course, you know, if Disney, I mean, if Angels [stadium sale] would conclude next year ... (if it) is approved hopefully."

"We'll push for them at lest have a million dollars. You know, for (the Angels Representative) to say 'no' is bad..." Sidhu was recorded as saying.

A 60-day hold was placed on the stadium's sale at the request of California Attorney General Rob Bonta. Bonta's office said its own deal with the city should be postponed after it became aware of the FBI corruption probe.

"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," a spokesperson for the Attorney General's Office said.

Natural Products Expo West in Anaheim, CA
Anaheim, CA - March 10: Anaheim Mayor Harry Sidhu welcomes visitors to the Natural Products Expo West at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, CA on Thursday, March 10, 2022. The show will be the first Expo West in Anaheim since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. Paul Bersebach/MediaNews Group/Orange County Register via Getty Images

According to the FBI's affidavit, the person who recorded the mayor discussing a payment from the Angels is or was a member of the Chamber of Commerce facing federal charges for defrauding a bank and is now helping in the federal investigation. That person was not named.

The decision to put the Angel Stadium deal on hold comes the same day the U.S. Attorney's Office announced Todd Ament, the former CEO and President of the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce, had been charged with lying to a mortgage lender. While Ament has not been named in the affidavit accusing Sidhu of corruption, federal prosecutors say Ament was part of a "cabal" made up of Anaheim public officials, consultants, and business leaders that regularly met to exert influence over the city's government operations.

Sidhu has not been charged with any crimes, and neither has any members of the Angels organization.

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