Agreement allowing $320 million sale of Angel Stadium suspended amid FBI corruption investigation against Mayor Harry Sidhu

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

The FBI says it has a secret phone recording of Sidhu requesting a $1 million payment 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 sensitive information about the sale to the team.

The sudden turn of events stunned Anaheim city leaders.

“What has been shared is news to all of us,” Anaheim Mayor Pro Tem Trevor O’Neil said at the Tuesday night meeting. “And the issues raised are troubling and something we take very seriously. At this point, we still don’t have all 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 obtained the cooperation of an associate of Sidhu’s to record conversations with him.

“Because I, I said, you have to at least a million dollars to get to my choice. They have to,” Sidhu said on the recordings, according to court documents. “And of course, you know, if Disney, I mean, if Angels [stadium sale] It would conclude next year… (if) it is approved, hopefully”.

“We’ll push for them to at least have a million dollars. You know, for (the Angels Representative) to say ‘no’ is bad…” Sidhu was recorded as saying.

The sale of the stadium was suspended for 60 days at the request of California Attorney General Rob Bonta. Bonta’s office said his own deal with the city should be postponed after he found out about the FBI’s corruption investigation.

“We are seriously concerned about the new information we have received about this settlement and are asking the court to stop its consideration of the stipulated judgment in light of this information,” said a spokesperson for the Attorney General’s Office.

West Natural Products Expo 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 Record via Getty Images

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

The decision to suspend the Angel Stadium deal comes on the same day the United States Attorney’s Office announced that Todd Ament, former CEO and president of the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce, had been accused of lying to a mortgage lender. While Ament has not been named in the affidavit charging Sidhu with corruption, federal prosecutors say Ament was part of a “cabbalah” made up of Anaheim public officials, consultants and business leaders who met regularly to exert influence over city ​​government operations.

Sidhu has not been charged with any crime, nor has any member of the Angels organization.

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