The Los Angeles Times reports that the LA County District Attorney's office is now looking into allegations that Randy Wang, the developer behind Temple City's Piazza Las Tunas mall/office project (now known as the Piazza at Temple City) was shaken down by the City Council members David Capra and Julie Wong, as well as Mayor Cathe Wilson in exchange for support for the project. These allegations were reported back in September 2008, with Wang stating that at one point he had delivered cash in white envelopes to officials (at a school yard, no less).
Additionally, the Times reports that Mayor Cathe Wilson demanded a condominium from Wang, but then changed her mind, asking for $48,000 instead. Now, let's not forget that Mr. Wang and the city have a strange history: In his suit against the city, Wang says he was taken advantage of because he is a "handicapped local resident whose primary language is not English." City officials deny all charges. Meanwhile, the smoking gun here could be phone records:
David Demerjian, head of the Public Integrity Division of the district attorney's office, said prosecutors are investigating the accusations. But he declined to comment on a statement by Wang's attorney, Patrick Duffy of Monteleone & McCrory, that prosecutors had subpoenaed recorded telephone conversations between the developer and city officials. "We received a complaint and are conducting an investigation," Demerjian said. "But there are aspects which are confidential that we cannot disclose." In California, it is illegal to record confidential conversations without consent from all parties. However, a person can legally record a private telephone conversation without informing the other party if that person has been threatened with extortion. Even if the conversations were recorded illegally, the tapes can be used as evidence as long as law enforcement did not play a role in taping them, said Jean Rosenbluth, a USC law professor and former federal prosecutor who specializes in criminal law. Meanwhile, the whole project is on commercial listing site Loopnet if anyone is interested in renting out retail space in Temple City.
· D.A. investigates allegations that Temple City officials solicited bribes [LA Times]
· Scandal! Tuna Pizza Developer Claims Bribery [Curbed LA]
· THE PIAZZA | Price Recently Lowered!! [Loopnet]