Member of Anaheim ‘cabal’ to plead guilty amid corruption scandal that killed stadium sale
Scandal already forced mayor to resign, embroils Angels, Disneyland Resort
The former head of the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce will plead guilty in connection with a continuing political corruption scandal that has embroiled the Angels pro baseball team and the Disneyland Resort.
Todd Ament will plead guilty to submitting a false tax return, lying to a mortgage lender, and two other counts of wire fraud, according to the Los Angeles TImes, citing a federal court filing Thursday.
Last month, when Ament was charged with lying to a mortgage lender, a 99-page affidavit in support of the complaint revealed a number of other allegations.
Federal agents also alleged Ament participated in a self-described “cabal” — a small group of individuals — that influenced Anaheim’s city government. The group would meet to discuss matters that were “often pending, or soon to be pending, before the Anaheim City Council.”
One of the “ring leaders” of this group was named as Company A Employee — later revealed by the L.A. Times as Carrie Nocella, director of external affairs for the Disneyland Resort, which includes the Disneyland and California Adventure theme parks along with the Downtown Disney, retail and dining district.
With his plea deal, Ament will be required to fully cooperate with the government, testify before grand juries and any trials, and pay back almost $250,000 in taxes.
In the plea agreement, Ament admitted to having “devised and participated in a scheme to defraud” a cannabis company out of $225,000 — Ament had said the funds would be used to create a task force and lobby the city to allow cannabis to be sold.
Ament also received $61,000 from the U.S. Small Business Administration — proceeds he spent on personal expenses at “suit stores, retail clothing stores and retail boat dealers.”
The scandal has also left a $320 million deal to sell Angel Stadium, and associated plans to build more than 5,000 homes, as well as offices, shops, restaurants and hotels around the field, up in the air.
Elected officials across California and in Washington, D.C., called for the deal to be killed after a federal agent accused former Mayor Harry Sidhu of providing confidential information about the sale in hopes of receiving $1 million in campaign aid. Sidhu, who stepped down in May in light of the scandal, has not been charged with any wrongdoing.
[LAT] — Isabella Farr