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Former Rosemead mayor agrees to plead guilty to bribery

February 3, 2012 |  2:52 pm

Tran IIA former Rosemead city official now running for a state Assembly seat has agreed to plead guilty to a federal charge of soliciting and accepting more than $10,000 in bribes from a developer.

John Tran, a current El Monte Union High School District board member and former mayor and councilman in Rosemead, admitted shaking down a developer who was trying to build a mixed-use office and residential project in Rosemead while he was on the council, according to a federal plea agreement made public Friday.

Between 2005 and 2007, while project approvals were pending, Tran would periodically visit the unnamed developer, who eventually became a confidential informant in the federal investigation, and demand money, according to the U.S. attorney's office.

During that period, the developer gave Tran $10,000 in cash payments and a check for $3,200 made out to “cash,” according to the plea agreement.

At one point, the contractor asked why Tran had done nothing in exchange for the bribes, and Tran said he had done “this” and pointed to a staff report and preliminary design approval that suggested the project was moving forward in the approval process.

After August 2007, the developer refused to give any more payments to Tran. In 2009, Tran was voted out of office and the project never received final approval.

Tran is running for the 49th Assembly District seat being vacated by termed-out Assemblyman Mike Eng (D-Monterey Park).

A biography on Tran’s campaign website touts his achievements on the City Council and says that as a school board member “he has worked to establish reforms focused on rooting out corruption in the school district.”

In exchange for Tran’s guilty plea, the U.S. attorney’s office will not pursue additional charges of  extortion and obstruction of justice.

Tran faces up to 10 years in prison and $250,000 in fines for the bribery charge.

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-- Abby Sewell

Photo: John Tran  in 1999. Credit: Ken Hively / LA Times

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