Courts & Law

18 months in prison for bribery conviction

A FORMER planning commissioner in Westminster was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison after being convicted of bribery.

A former member of Westminster Planning Commission was sentenced Monday to 18 months in federal prison for taking a $15,000 bribe to help a person obtain a liquor license.

Dave Vo, 43, of Westminster, was sentenced by United States District Judge James V. Selna in Santa Ana.

Following a three-day jury trial, Vo was convicted in September of one count of bribery.

Vo, who is an attorney with an office in Huntington Beach, served as a planning commissioner in from early 2009 through early 2013. By virtue of his position, he had influence over the issuance of conditional use permits.

In 2011, Vo solicited a $15,000 bribe from a confidential informant. The informant reported to the FBI that Vo had solicited a bribe in relation to the issuance of a liquor license. During August 2011, over the course of four meetings, Vo received cash payments that totaled $15,000 in exchange for pushing the liquor license permit through the city’s approval process.

During the trial, the jury heard audio recordings of Vo soliciting the bribe – at one point telling the informant to “stay quiet” and “don’t even mention what’s going on” – and then saw video recordings of the payments being made.

“To line his pockets, [Vo] made a calculated decision to help a bribe payer at the expense of law-abiding members of the community who sought conditional use permits and liquor licenses through legitimate channels,” prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memorandum filed with the court. “In so doing, [Vo] sold his influence on the planning commission, giving (as he called it) ‘inside’ access for ‘under the table’ money. That conduct reflects a profound breach of the public’s trust.”

The case against Vo was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Daniel H. Ahn of the Santa Ana Branch Office.


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