Saturday, January 16, 2016

Who Else Took HP Tow Money?

A breaking news story from the Los Angeles Times identifies Huntington Park Councilmember Valentin Amezquita as a key FBI informant to expose corruption from the city's former towing company:

The owners of a company that towed and stored impounded vehicles for the city Police Department wanted permission to hike the fees they charged. The police chief and mayor supported the idea, saying the request was reasonable.

But Councilman Valentin Amezquita wasn't buying it.

In exchange for the monopoly the city had handed H.P. Tow in the form of an exclusive, long-term contract, the company should be offering discounted prices, not asking for more money, Amezquita said.

"What do we get out of this? What do our residents get?" he asked before voting against the higher fees. Two others joined him, defeating the measure.

The next day, Amezquita's phone rang with a call from a lobbyist working with Jimmy Sandhu and Sukhbir Singh, the owners of H.P. Tow. She asked him to lunch.

It was just the move FBI agents had hoped the men would make. When Amezquita sat down with Singh and the lobbyist at a restaurant days later, he was wired with recording equipment that secretly captured the conversation. Federal agents hid nearby.

The August 2013 encounter was the first of several meals, phone calls and tow yard meetings with Singh and Sandhu that Amezquita recorded as an informant for the FBI and which now are at the center of a federal bribery case against the men, court records show. Since their arrest and an initial court appearance in October 2015, Singh, 39, and Sandhu, 37, have been free on bond and have not been formally indicted by a grand jury on criminal charges.

Bribery and corruption were the norm. The two under indictment, Jimmy Sandhu and Sukhbir Singh, also donated to other campaigns:

Mayor Karina Macias (center)

Rosa E. Perez (Documents show her getting donations in January 2011). Perez also received donations from the same company under different headings in 2015.

Friends of Karina Macias for Huntington Park City Council 2013:
This PAC took different amounts of money from the same person, and also under different headings.

So, the FBI has already indicted the tow truck owners.

Before the news of this indictment, and Councilmember Amezuita's role in catching the criminals, Mayor Macias called an emergency city council meeting for December 23rd, 2015. In that meeting, the city council voted to end the contract with HP Towing.

Interesting. So, did the city council get wind of this indictment coming down from federal court? One source informed me that the city council received federal subpoenas.

Is Karina Macias mixed up with the corrupt HP Towing? Will she get towed off to prison soon?


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