County official admits to accepting bribes from developer Arman Gabay

The former government employee said he took payments from the West Hollywood developer in exchange for government business

Arman Gabay and the Hawthorne Plaza mall, LA Superior Court (Credit: Pixabay)
Arman Gabay and the Hawthorne Plaza mall, LA Superior Court (Credit: Pixabay)

A former Los Angeles County official admitted to accepting cash bribes from a prominent West Hollywood real estate developer in exchange for helping him secure a multimillion-dollar leasing deal with the county.

Thomas Shepos has agreed to plead guilty to making false statements to the FBI about the bribe and kickback deal with the developer, Arman Gabay, and to signing a false tax return in 2014, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Federal prosecutors charged Gabay in May. Gabay, who faces up to 10 years in prison, pleaded not guilty.

Authorities say Gabay — who co-founded West Hollywood-based Charles Company, sent the county employee monthly payments of $1,000 over six years, and had offered to buy Sheppos a $1.1 million home in Santa Rosa. Gabay made two offers last year on an eight-acre property in Santa Rosa meant as a bribe to Shepos, federal officials said.

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The payments would help secure a 10-year, $45 million lease with county departments at the Hawthorne Plaza mall, which Charles Co. planned to redevelop into a $500 million mixed-use project. The project was scuttled in February.

In Wednesday’s plea agreement, Shepos said he collected $434,000 in bribes over seven years. He also hid $139,000 in income, the bulk of that stemming from those bribes, in his 2014 tax return. Besides the money he allegedly received from Gabay, Shepos also admitted to accepting bribes of up to $300,000 from an electrical contractor.

As part of the plea deal, Shepos faces up to eight years in prison when he is sentenced. [LAT] — Natalie Hoberman