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Former Rosemead mayor pleads guilty to federal bribery charge

March 20, 2012 |  3:43 pm

John Tran, Rosemead

A former Rosemead mayor and El Monte Union High School board member pleaded guilty Tuesday to a federal charge of soliciting and accepting more than $10,000 in bribes from a developer, prosecutors said.

John Tran, appearing in U.S. Central District Court, 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 his federal plea agreement.

Tran faces up to 10 years in prison and $250,000 in fines at his Aug. 6 sentencing. 

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

The developer gave Tran $10,000 in cash payments and a check for $3,200 made out to “cash,” according to a federal 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, according to the plea deal.

Once a rising star in San Gabriel Valley politics, Tran in 2009 was voted out of office and the project never received final approval.

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


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Photo: John Tran  in 1999. Credit: Los Angeles Times