Torrance real estate developer pleads guilty in L.A. campaign money laundering case

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Businessman Samuel Leung, left, stands alongside his lawyer, Daniel V. Nixon, in court in 2018. On Dec. 3, 2020, Leung pleaded guilty to a felony count of conspiracy. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

Businessman Samuel Leung, left, stands alongside his lawyer, Daniel V. Nixon, in court in 2018. On Dec. 3, 2020, Leung pleaded guilty to a felony count of conspiracy. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

A Southern California real estate developer pleaded guilty on Thursday in a money-laundering case that involved providing illegal contributions to the campaigns of six Los Angeles politicians.

Samuel Leung, 70, entered a plea to conspiracy to commit campaign money laundering, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The Torrance-based developer was sentenced to five years’ probation and 500 hours of community service and will pay an as-yet-undetermined amount in restitution.

The Times had reported that beginning in 2009, more than 100 people and companies with ties to Leung made more than $600,000 in political donations while his six-story apartment project was being reviewed.

The scheme involved illegally reimbursing the donors, which included Leung’s relatives and workers, the Times said.

The apartment project won city approval in 2015 and the building, called the Sea Breeze, opened last year in the Harbor Gateway area.

The donations went to campaigns of politicians including Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, County Supervisor Janice Hahn when she was on the City Council and City Councilman Joe Buscaino, who replaced her in representing the Harbor Gateway neighborhood.

“I hope he is held accountable,” Hahn told the Times in response to Leung’s plea.

About $60,000 was received by a campaign committee that backed Garcetti’s 2013 mayoral bid but wasn’t controlled by him, the Times said.

Garcetti didn’t immediately comment on the plea, the paper said.

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