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Rosemead Drops Request for Probe of Campaign Gifts

February 01, 1987|SUE AVERY | Times Staff Writer

ROSEMEAD — City Council members have withdrawn a request that the district attorney investigate campaign contributions offered to three councilmen by a woman just days before they were to vote on a housing project planned by her sister.

Councilman Robert Bruesch said he had been told by Steve Sowders, head deputy district attorney for the special investigations division, that it appeared that Nina Kuo, a real estate broker working for her sister, had done nothing illegal. Sowders could not be reached for comment.

Bruesch said the developer, Rose Wong, has dropped out of the project and "had paid the price" because, he said, the council will never allow her to build a project in Rosemead.

Another developer is about to offer a proposal for the same site at 8370 Mission Drive. "We dropped the idea of asking for an investigation because we decided she (Wong) had paid the price," Bruesch said. "She is not going to do any development in our community. The punishment fits the crime."

Neither Kuo nor Wong could be reached for comment.

Bruesch and Councilmen Jay Imperial and Pat Cleveland said Kuo paid them unannounced visits at their homes on the weekend before they were scheduled to vote on Wong's project.

The three said Kuo handed them envelopes and told them she wanted to make contributions to their election campaigns. Bruesch and Cleveland said their envelopes contained $1,000 checks made out to their respective reelection committees. Both returned the checks to Kuo, they said.

Imperial said he returned the envelope Kuo gave him without opening it. None of the three councilmen has announced his intention to run for reelection in the next council race, scheduled for April, 1988.

At the Jan. 13 council meeting, City Atty. Robert Kress announced what had happened during the weekend and said that because of those incidents, the three members would abstain from voting on the project.

Kress said the abstentions would mean no action could be taken because of the lack of a quorum.

It is unclear whether the council would have approved the project. Bruesch and Cleveland said they were prepared to vote for the project, while Imperial said he would have voted against it. The fourth councilman, Gary Taylor, who was not approached by Kuo, said he was unable to say how he would have voted.

The fifth council seat became vacant in October, when Louis Tury Jr. resigned after pleading guilty to paying kickbacks for defense contracts for his machine shop.

According to a transcript of the Jan. 13 council meeting, when Imperial asked Wong if she knew that her sister had visited the council members, Wong said she could not answer "without my attorney." Kuo was not at the meeting.

Wong had planned to build 12 homes ranging from 1,470 to 1,800 square feet on 2,000-square-foot lots. The selling price was expected to be between $150,000 and $180,000.

The land is owned by James Richardson, a member of a longtime Rosemead family. He could not be reached for comment.

Mike Mangana, a partner in Owen Development of Monrovia, said he will present drawings to the city this week on his proposal to build 9 or 10 homes on the site. Council members had expressed concern about Wong's plan to build 12 homes there.

"I am starting from scratch because I don't want this project to be tainted," Mangana said.

Bruesch said he was pleased with Mangana's plans. "It sounds now like the lot sizes will be large enough to satisfy us and this is beautiful, just great."

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