ANAHEIM, Calif. - Former Anaheim Mayor Harry Sidhu has agreed to plead guilty to federal charges including obstruction of justice, wire fraud and lying to federal investigators stemming in part from his actions during an aborted city effort to sell Angel Stadium, according to court documents filed Wednesday.
"While serving as Anaheim's mayor, Mr. Sidhu took a series of actions that compromised the city's negotiating position by providing confidential information and secretly working to influence the city's decision-making process -- all of which had a detrimental effect on the city and its residents," First Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph T. McNally said in a statement. "Public confidence in the integrity of public officials is critical to our society. This office will continue to root out public officials who compromise their integrity."
Prosecutors allege in the court papers that during the city's 2020 negotiations to sell the stadium to the Angels, Sidhu provided "confidential inside information belonging to the city -- including confidential negotiation information" to an Angels consultant and then-Anaheim Chamber of Commerce co-president Todd Ament. Prosecutors said Sidhu was later caught on tape saying he expected a $1 million campaign contribution from the Angels in exchange for the information he provided.
He later "knowingly destroyed multiple email messages and documents related to this conduct," according to the plea agreement, in an effort "to impede and obstruct the FBI's investigation of public corruption" involving the proposed stadium sale.
Anaheim Mayor Harry Sidhu holds a press conference to discuss the Angel Stadium lease talks on the 7th floor of Anaheim City Hall in Anaheim on Tuesday, August 27, 2019. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan/MediaNews Group/Orange County Register via Getty Images (Getty Images)
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According to prosecutors, one of the emails allegedly destroyed by Sidhu detailed plans for "mock City Council meetings" that were being planned to help other council members and Angels officials prepare for the actual meeting at which the stadium sale would be discussed. The plea agreement includes what was an apparent agenda for one of those mock meetings, in which participants would "run through a mock council session straight through one time at the start to identify pitfalls and areas of vulnerability." The session would also include Angels officials "to help develop `zingers,' responses and other points to improve performance," according to the court papers.
According to prosecutors, Sidhu also admits in the court papers that he lied about the sale negotiations to FBI investigators, telling them he did not expect to receive any campaign contributions from the Angels.
Separately, Sidhu also admits lying to the Federal Aviation Administration about his purchase and registration of a helicopter, which he bought while listing an Arizona home address despite living in Anaheim, amounting to tax fraud, prosecutors said.
Sidhu is expected to make an initial appearance in federal court in Santa Ana later this month. A date has not yet been set for him to enter his plea.
Prosecutors said he faces up to 10 years in prison for obstruction of justice, 20 years for wire fraud and five years each for the two false statements charges.
In a statement, Sidhu's attorney said, "Former Mayor Sidhu appreciates the thorough and fair investigation by the United States Attorney's Office leading to a resolution in this matter."