Two police informants involved in a controversial real estate deal said Thursday they were questioned extensively by Los Angeles police detectives in what appeared to be a wide-ranging corruption investigation of local political figures, including Mayor Tom Bradley.
The police "said they were attacking the system," said Stanley Washington, a Pasadena real estate developer who has been granted immunity from prosecution in the probe.
Washington confirmed Thursday that he was one of two informants quoted but not named in a lengthy affidavit that describes a series of campaign contributions made to public officials in the mid-1980s, allegedly to gain their support for a private housing project.
Glenn Session, an Altadena real estate broker, confirmed Thursday that he was the other informant and that he also was questioned closely about possible corruption in connection with the housing project.
Both men had been partners with Harold Washington (no relation to Stanley Washington), a Baldwin Hills real estate entrepreneur whose office and apartment were raided by at least a dozen investigators two weeks ago, including one who reportedly identified himself as an FBI agent.
Police Department and FBI officials have refused to comment on the investigation. All public officials mentioned in the affidavit have denied any wrongdoing.
But interviews with the informants and others familiar with the case, as well as the affidavit filed in Municipal Court, indicate that a major investigation is under way.
Investigators are focusing on the Sheridan Manor housing project, which Harold Washington has been attempting to develop since the early 1980s. The project, now nearly complete, includes 162 low-income apartments at two central city sites.
Once condemned and scheduled for demolition by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the buildings were saved through the intervention of Bradley and other local officials and turned over to the city's Community Redevelopment Agency.
Harold Washington and his then-partners, Stanley Washington and Session, had plans to purchase the buildings and renovate them. The group eventually won the rights to the buildings in a competitive bidding process overseen by the the Community Redevelopment Agency.
However, Stanley Washington and Session told the investigators that they believe the bidding was rigged in their favor because they had passed out thousands of dollars in campaign contributions to Bradley as well as hefty consulting fees to John Tuite, who later became head of the CRA.
One of the informants, according to the affidavit, "knew that the project would be given to them in the end." The affidavit did not elaborate.
In an interview, Stanley Washington said he believed his group would win the bidding because he received assurances from Harold Washington and other influential people he would not identify.
Both informants claimed that they invested more than $100,000 in the project, a large share of which went to Harold Washington to buy political influence, according to the affidavit and interviews.
They also claimed, according to the affidavit, that they ensured City Council approval by making large contributions to Council President John Ferraro and then-Councilman David Cunningham, in whose districts the buildings were located.
Neither Stanley Washington nor Session would say Thursday whether they have hard evidence of illegal acts or witnessed promises of support for the project in exchange for money or contributions.
Stanley Washington and Session were forced out of the project several years ago at the insistence of CRA officials who were unhappy with their track records. Other investors were brought in.
Harold Washington denied wrongdoing in the matter, as did Bradley, Ferraro and Tuite. Cunningham has not returned telephone calls.
John Maguire, head of the CRA's housing division and the official who directly oversaw the Sheridan Manor bidding, denied Thursday that he had ever been pressured by any elected officials to select Washington's group over the three other bidders. But Maguire said he "might have" received inquiries from Bradley's office about the status of the project.
Stanley Washington said Thursday that four detectives questioned him for about four hours several weeks ago about Bradley, Ferraro, Cunningham and others.