Harry Sidhu, the former Indian American mayor of Anaheim, has agreed to plead guilty to multiple federal felony charges including obstruction of justice, wire fraud, and making false statements to the FBI.
Sidhu, 66, pleaded guilty to charges involving corruption and leaking confidential city information during the sale of Angel Stadium to the Los Angeles Angels Major League Baseball club in 2018, the US Attorney’s Office announced Wednesday.
Elected in 2018, Sidhu was the first person of color and the first Sikh to serve as mayor with a pledge to “make Anaheim shine again.”
Sidhu who became a US citizen in 1979 also served on the board of Friends of United States, an organization that promotes India–United States relations.
He resigned as Mayor in May 2022 while being investigated by federal officials in relation to the stadium deal.
“Mr. Sidhu was elected by and pledged to work for the residents of Anaheim, but he violated that pledge and their trust on numerous occasions to look out for special interests,” Donald Alway, assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles field office, stated.
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Sidhu also admitted to cheating California tax authorities and making false statements to the Federal Aviation Administration regarding the purchase of a helicopter, officials said.
While negotiating the Angel Stadium sale, Sidhu became a member of the city’s negotiating team and provided confidential city information to the Angels representatives to ensure the purchase would be bought on terms favorable to them.
He was later recorded saying he expected a $1 million campaign contribution from the Angels following the sale, court documents said.
He admitted to deleting a July 2020 email that contained confidential negotiation information related to the potential sale that was drafted by lawyers for the city.
Sidhu also admitted to deleting a September 2020 email about secret mock Anaheim City Council meetings involving himself, two other city council members and Angels representatives including the team president and a team lawyer.
The mock city council meetings preceded the scheduled public meetings about the proposed sale. Sidhu’s deleted email had an attachment that detailed the rehearsed talking topics for each participant.
He also provided a confidential appraisal range to the Angels in 2019, months before the appraisal was made public, officials said.
Sidhu admitted to lying about the negotiations while being interviewed by the FBI including falsely stating that he expected “nothing” from the Angels after the sale when, “In truth, he was expecting to receive a $1 million campaign contribution for his election,” court documents said.
He lied about not using his personal email to conduct city business when in fact, he had, officials said. Sidhu also communicated with some city staff using a staff member’s personal email while purposely avoiding using their official work email.
In late 2020, Sidhu admitted to defrauding the state of about $16,000 in sales tax to purchase a helicopter.
He faces up to 10 years in prison for the obstruction of justice count, up to 20 years for the wire fraud count, and up to five years for each false statement count.
His next court date is scheduled at the United States District Court in Santa Ana later this month.
A statement from Sidhu’s attorney, Paul S. Meyer, said, “Former Mayor Sidhu appreciates the thorough and fair investigation by the United States Attorney’s Office leading to a resolution in this matter.”