John Tran, the former Rosemead city council member and mayor, has agreed to plead guilty to federal bribery charges, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.
Tran, 36, was named in a criminal filing Friday and the plea agreement was also filed. This usually happens when the defendant agrees to plead guilty when confronted by the investigators, in this case, the FBI.
Tran pleads guilty to accepting bribes from a developer who invested in $1.8 million plots of land in Rosemead in exchange for helping him/her with a mixed-use building project. His help came to naught, the project was never approved, and Tran was voted out of office in 2009, losing by 1 vote after two rounds of recount.
The maximum sentencing Tran faces is 10 years in prison, restitution, and a fine of $250,000.
The statement of fact accompanying the plea agreement – Tran is agreeing to all the details in it - shows the gall of Tran, who did not seem to even know the developer beforehand.
Identified in the filing only as a confidential informant (“CI”), the developer bought an empty lot in Rosemead in 2005 for $1.1 million. The previous owner had already had a blueprint for an office building, and CI planned to follow through with it.
So CI went to City Hall to apply for a permit. There, CI met Tran who asked what CI was doing there. CI said, to apply for a permit. Tran then took CI and two city employees into a conference room, introduced himself as a member of the city council.
After hearing CI talk about the permit, Tran and the two city employees suggested that it would be better if CI develop a mixed-use building instead.
They also suggested that CI buy the adjacent lot, which CI eventually did, at a price of $700,000.
Next thing CI knew, Tran showed up at CI’s office. Claiming he’s “help”ing with the permit process, Tran asked for money.
Which shows guts, cuz up until seeing CI at City Hall, Tran didn’t know who CI was.
And a good instinct too, because when Tran asked to “borrow” $3,000, CI went to the bank and got the cash. Tran smelled blood and he scored.
Tran would later come back several times for more cash, $2000 here, $2000 there, and another $3,000.
Then in 2005, Tran came to CI’s office again. This time, somehow he got suspicious and searched the place for recording devices. CI wasn’t happy, and asked Tran what had he done for CI after getting all CI’s money. Tran said “this” and handed a stack of paper, showing that CI’s project had been preliminarily approved.
Tran then asked for even more money. CI told Tran to go see CI’s partner. He did, and partner signed him a check made out to “Cash” for $3,200.
So, altogether, Tran got $13,200 from CI.
After that, though, CI refused to give Tran any more money.
In 2009, Tran got voted out of office. CI’s project was never approved by the city.
After losing his election, Tran ran for the El Monte Union High School Board and won.
Right now, he’s running for the newly created 49th Assembly District.