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

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.

State Attorney General Rob Bonta filed the request asking for the settlement for the Angel Stadium redevelopment project to be suspended in Orange County Superior Court on Monday, along with an affidavit for a search warrant filed by the FBI. Bonta’s office said it should postpone its own deal with the city after it became aware of the FBI corruption probe, which included two confidential informants with one wired to secretly record conversations with the mayor.

“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.

The request to pause the settlement comes just a few weeks after the Bonta’s office announced the agreement with Anaheim, resolving the dispute over affordable housing in the stadium deal. The deal had Anaheim agreeing to set aside about $123 million for affordable housing throughout the city, with $96 million dedicated to creating affordable housing within the next five years, and the rest going toward 466 apartments on site at the stadium for low-income residents.

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

In the affidavit filed by FBI special agent Brian Adkins last week, Sidhu is accused of using an Arizona address that was not his so he could avoid paying $15,887.50 in California sales tax on a helicopter he bought. Adkins said Sidhu also allegedly avoided paying $1,025 in Arizona sales taxes.

The FBI also alleged in the affidavit for the search warrant for emails and cell phone records that Sidhu was illegally feeding insider

information to Angels officials during the negotiations over the sale of the stadium property from the city to Angels owner Arte Moreno’s company. Sidhu used private emails and a cell phone to convey information and then delete it to conceal his actions, the affidavit alleges. A transcript of some of the discussions the mayor allegedly had with a confidential informant, who agreed to cooperate with authorities, were included by the FBI.

Sidhu allegedly told the informant, who was wearing a wire, that he was going to push the Angels to start a political action committee and fund it with up to $1 million to help with the mayor’s re-election once the stadium deal was pushed through. The mayor was also accused of “coaching” the confidential informant to mislead an Orange County grand jury of the stadium deal. According to the FBI, Sidhu is also believed to have tilted a key ruling from an Orange County Superior Court judge in a Brown Act violation lawsuit seeking to undo the stadium sale deal.

According to the affidavit, one of the people involved in the stadium negotiations is a nationally known political consultant.

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. In that announcement, federal prosecutors described a “cabal” made up of Anaheim public officials, consultants, and business leaders that regularly met to exert influence over the city’s government operations.

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