A former California Democrat mayor and candidate for the state Assembly will plead guilty to soliciting and accepting more than $10,000 in bribes from a developer.
John Tran, an El Monte Union High School District board member and former Rosemead mayor and councilman, faces up to 10 years in prison and $250,000 in fines for extorting bribes from a land developer in exchange for advancing the developer’s project.
From The Los Angeles Times:
The developer, who was not named in the court documents, had bought a vacant lot for $1.1 million and planned to build offices. At the request of Tran and two city employees, however, the developer agreed to buy an adjacent lot for $700,000 and build a mixed-use project.
Between 2005 and 2007, while project approvals were pending, Tran would periodically visit the developer, who eventually became a confidential informant in the federal investigation, and demand money, according to the U.S. attorney's office.
During that period, the developer gave Tran $10,000 in cash payments and a check for $3,200 made out to "cash," according to the plea agreement.
At one point, officials said, the developer asked why Tran had done nothing in exchange for the bribes, and Tran said he had done "this" — pointing to a staff report and preliminary design approval that suggested the project was moving forward in the approval process.
After August 2007, the developer refused to give any more payments to Tran, according to the agreement. In 2009, Tran was voted out of office; and the project, which became the subject of the federal investigation, never received final approval.
Before he was charged, Tran had thrown his hat in the ring for the 49th Assembly District seat being vacated by termed-out Assemblyman Mike Eng (D-Monterey Park). Tran's attorney, Michael Zweiback, said Tran is now withdrawing his candidacy and submitted his resignation to the school board Friday.
A biography on Tran's campaign website touts his achievements on the City Council and says that as a school board member "he has worked to establish reforms focused on rooting out corruption in the school district."