The former 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 and the FAA, officials announced Wednesday.
Harry 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, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Elected to office in 2018, Sidhu resigned from his mayoral position in May 2022 while being investigated by federal officials in relation to the stadium deal.
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. While on the team, he 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.
While being investigated, authorities said Sidhu “knowingly destroyed evidence by deleting multiple email messages and documents with the intent to impede and obstruct the FBI’s investigation of public corruption.”
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 used a Scottsdale, Arizona address to register the chopper despite living in Anaheim. The fraudulent address belonged to an unidentified Anaheim businessperson. He provided the false address and information to the FAA when submitting the registration for the helicopter, as well, officials said.
“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,” said First Assistant United States Attorney Joseph T. McNally.
“The public places a lot of trust and confidence in elected officials, which Mr. Sidhu violated,” said Special Agent in Charge Tyler Hatcher, IRS Criminal Investigation, Los Angeles Field Office.
Sidhu pled guilty to one count of obstruction of justice, one count of wire fraud, and two counts of making false statements to the FBI and the FAA.
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 Attorneys Office leading to a resolution in this matter.”