A Los Angeles developer was charged Friday with illegally funneling tens of thousands of dollars to eight local politicians while trying to obtain a zone change in order to build a $72 million apartment building in Harbor Gateway.
The Los Angeles Times reported Samuel Leung, developer of the 352-unit Sea Breeze project, was charged with one felony count of conspiracy to commit campaign money laundering and one felony count of offering to bribe a legislator.
The office of L.A. County District Attorney Jackie Lacey, which filed the charges, was unavailable for comment late Friday afternoon. Attorneys for Leung were also unavailable.
An eight-page criminal complaint filed Friday also named Sofia David, Leung’s secretary, who was charged with one felony count of conspiracy to commit campaign money laundering.
If convicted, the 67-year-old Leung faces up to four years and eight months in state prison. His arraignment is set for April 11.
An arrest warrant was issued for David, 58, who faces up to three years in prison. She also could not be reached.
The charges follow a Los Angeles Times investigation alleging that more than 100 political donors connected to Leung had given more than $600,000 to Los Angeles-area politicians while his apartment project was being reviewed.
Prosecutors said Leung and David recruited employees, family members and others to act as “straw donors” to direct cash to politicians in an effort to get an empty lot on Sepulveda Boulevard rezoned so that the complex could be built.
The criminal complaint [http://files.constantcontact.com/607f0357301/ed5e0594-00ef-4212-ba63-8d4e5210b314.pdf ] alleged that Leung and David made multiple contributions without disclosing that money “either originated from, or was reimbursed by, Leung and others acting at his direction.”
State law bars anyone from making a political contribution using someone else’s name.
Superior Court Judge Teresa Sullivan declined a request by prosecutors to impose bail, according to the Times, releasing Leung on his own recognizance. She did order him to surrender his passport, stay in Southern California and conduct business under his own name.
Health business reporter Dana Bartholomew can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @_DanaBart.