LA Developer Charged With Making Illegal Campaign Donations

LOS ANGELES (CN) – Several Los Angeles-area politicians received tens of thousands of dollars in illegal campaign donations from a Southern California real estate developer that prosecutors say resulted in the approval of an apartment complex.

Prosecutors on Friday charged Samuel Leung, 67, with one felony count of conspiracy to commit campaign money laundering and another felony count of offering to bribe a legislative body member. According to LA County District Attorney Jackie Lacey’s office, Leung’s secretary Sofia David, 58, was charged with the same felony count.

Prosecutors say the pair funneled money to Los Angeles-area politicians by recruiting family members, employees and others to make political contributions that resulted in the construction of the 352-unit Sea Breeze apartment complex in south Los Angeles. The LA City Council approved the project in 2015.

The DA says that starting in 2009, Leung and David gave tens of thousands of dollars to politicians who could approve the project via donors who were all connected in some way to Leung.

In 2016, the Los Angeles Times reported that then-city councilwoman Janice Hahn and current city councilmembers Mitchell Englander, Jose Huizar, Joe Buscaino, and Nury Martinez received more than $600,000 in donations over a seven-year period. An independent campaign committee that supported Mayor Eric Garcetti but was not controlled by him also received contributions, according to the newspaper report.

Prosecutors say Leung and David reimbursed many of the donors’ contributions, which went to eight Los Angeles-area politicians.

If convicted, Leung faces four years and eight months in state prison. David faces up to three years if convicted, according to investigators with the DA’s office.

A phone call to the LA City Council president’s office seeking comment was not immediately returned.

 

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