LOS ANGELES – The former mayor of the City of Rosemead, California, pleaded guilty to a one-count information in federal court this morning.
John Tran, 36, of Rosemead, pleaded guilty to a federal bribery charge based on a series of payments he solicited and received from a property developer. The property developer is referred to as a cooperating informant (CI) because he later informed the FBI of Tran’s bribery scheme. Tran first approached the developer at Rosemead City Hall.
The bribery charge to which Tran pleaded guilty related to cash payments totaling $7,000 given to Tran by the developer in 2005 and 2006, and a $3,200 check payable to “cash” that Tran received from the developer’s business partner in 2007. During his guilty plea hearing, Tran acknowledged that he may be required to make restitution in the amount of $38,000 to the developer, based on the total amount Tran received during the scheme.
In pleading guilty, Tran admitted that “[d]uring the time that the CI made payments to defendant, the CI’s planning and building proofs were pending approval before the City.” According to his plea agreement, Tran “occasionally informed the CI that the CI’s project was ‘there,’ and that he was ‘not going anywhere.’” Tran acknowledged that “[b]ased on the CI’s conversations with defendant, the CI believed that the CI would have to accede to defendant’s bribe demands if the CI wanted the project approved, and that the CI’s project would not be approved if the CI refused to pay defendant.”
After the payments were made, Tran lost his bid at re-election, and the city never approved the project.
Tran was elected to the Rosemead City Council in 2005 and was Mayor of Rosemead from 2007 to 2009. On an annual basis, the City of Rosemead is allocated millions of dollars in federal grant funds from the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
“Corruption by any elected official corrodes public confidence in the electoral process,” said United States Attorney André Birotte Jr. “In this case, the defendant, while he was a city’s highest-ranking elected official, exploited that position and broke the public’s trust in order to line his own pockets.”
"Mr. Tran used his position of influence to personally profit, rather than provide services to his constituents," said Steve Martinez, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI's Los Angeles Field Office. "The FBI is committed to investigating allegations of corruption and restoring honest government, by holding public officials accountable when they violate the public's trust."
The charge of bribery carries a statutory maximum sentence of 10 years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000.
The case against Tran was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.