Sidhu to plead guilty in Angel Stadium case


Former Anaheim major guilty in Angel stadium scandal Image: Angel Stadium of Anaheim, Brandon Fick, CC BY 2.0

A former Anaheim Mayor has agreed to plead guilty to Federal charges stemming from an FBI investigation into corruption for the attempted sale of the Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California (US), according to a plea agreement filed recently.

‘CNN’ stated that Harish ‘Harry’ Singh Sidhu, a former Anaheim City Council Member who was elected as the Mayor in 2018 and resigned in 2022 after the investigation was publicly disclosed, was charged with one count of obstruction of justice, one count of wire fraud and two counts of making false statements to a Federal agency, according to the plea agreement, which was filed in the US District Court for the Central District of California.

The 45,050-capacity Angel Stadium of Anaheim, better known simply as the Angel Stadium, is a baseball stadium located in Anaheim, California, United States. Since its opening 57 years ago in 1966, it has served as the ballpark of the Major League Baseball’s (MLB’s) Los Angeles Angels.

The Los Angeles Angels are an American professional baseball team based in the Greater Los Angeles area (US). The Angels compete in the Major League Baseball (MLB) as a member club of the American League West division. Since 1966, the team has played its home games at the Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California.

The Anaheim City Council is the legislative branch of the Government for the City of Anaheim, California (US).

‘CNN’ further stated that in July 2020, Sidhu shared confidential information regarding the sale of the Angel Stadium to Todd Ament, the then-head honcho of the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce, and to a consultant working for the Los Angeles Angels professional baseball team while he was on the City’s negotiating team “so that the Angels could buy the Angel Stadium on terms beneficial to the Angels”, the agreement says. He later destroyed emails and documents related to this “with the intent to impede and obstruct the FBI’s investigation of public corruption” surrounding the sale, the agreement says.

The Federal law enforcement officials secretly recorded Sidhu during their investigation, where he said he expected to receive a $1,000,000 campaign contribution from the Angels once the sale went through, the agreement says.

A transcript of Sidhu’s recorded comments from December 6th, 2021, included in the plea agreement, says, “Because I, I’ve said, you gotta at least, minimum of a million dollars to come up with my election. They have to. And of course, you know, … if the Angels project would conclude next year is approved hopefully, we’ll push for them at least half a million dollars. You know, for (Angel’s representative) to say ‘no’ is bad.”

On January 28th, 2022, the Federal law enforcement recorded Sidhu saying, “Because I am hoping to get at least a million from (sic) I’m going to be pushing it. (Angel’s representative) actually asked me. He said, ‘What can I do for your election?’ I said, ‘Let me finish your deal first, and then we’ll talk about that,’” according to a transcript shared in the plea agreement.

Sidhu voted for the sale of the Angel Stadium to the team during a September 2020 Council meeting, the agreement says.

During an interview with the agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in May 2022, Sidhu told them “he was expecting ‘nothing’ from the Angels”, the plea agreement says.

Sidhu’s Attorneys Paul S. Meyer and Craig Wilke said, “The former Mayor Sidhu appreciates the thorough and fair investigation by the United States Attorney’s Office leading to a resolution in this matter.”

The Angels organization spokesperson Marie Garvey stated, “It is important to note both the Plea Agreement along with the City’s investigation showed no evidence of any wrongdoing by the Angels Organization.”

Law enforcement authorities also discovered during the investigation that Sidhu registered a helicopter he bought under an Anaheim businessperson’s address in Arizona in an attempt to avoid $15,887 in sales tax, the agreement says. He has since paid the applicable taxes, the agreement further stated.

Sidhu is facing the possibility of 50 years in prison, a three-year supervised release and “a fine of $1,000,000 or twice the gross gain or gross loss resulting from the offenses,” depending on what is greater, the agreement says. Under the terms of the agreement, however, prosecutors have agreed to recommend sentencing on the lower end of sentencing guidelines.

He is expected to enter his plea later this month in the US District Court in Santa Ana, according to the US Attorney’s Office for the Central District.

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