The Temple City case — bribery, perjury, money laundering and drug dealing

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If politics disgusts you, read no further. 

If you are interested in how a corrupt government really works, here’s an instructive timeline put together by Alfred Lee and based on a grand jury probe of shenanigans in Temple City.  
We’ve put together a special section detailing what those reports entail, it’s here.
At right — former Mayor –still councilwoman Judy Wong..
As for the timeline… which includes allegations of bribery, perjury, money laundering and drug dealing, it’s on the jump …


Grand jury transcripts provide this timeline for allegations of political corruption in Temple City:
  • 2004: Local Developer Randy Wang submits plans to build a five-story tower of 250-350 condominiums and some retail at Rosemead Boulevard and Las Tunas Drive; the plan is unanimously rejected by the City Council. Wang begins working on another mixed-use proposal, which will eventually become the Piazza Las Tunas.
  • 2005: Wang begins a partnership with project manager Jay Liyanage, whom he meets through local newspaper editor Dana Baskin, a close friend of Councilwoman Cathe Wilson.
  • March 2005: Liyanage informs Wang that Wilson wants a condominium, Wang says.
  • May 2005. According to Wang, Wilson asks the developer for a condominium over breakfast at Arcadia Golf Course.
  • April/May 2006. Liyanage gives $2,000 in cash to Wilson at Coco’s restaurant on Las Tunas and Live Oak, Liyanage says.
  • May 2006. Wang enters into contract with the city agreeing to forfeit the Piazza property if he does not meet certain deadlines.
  • Sept. 5 through Sept. 9, 2006. Liyanage pays $144 for a car rental on behalf of Wilson, Liyanage says. The rental car company’s records corroborate, according to prosecutors. Wilson allegedly double dips by having Temple City reimburse her $111.25 for vehicle travel to a League of California Cities Conference during this time, which city records also corroborate, prosecutors say.
  • January 2007. Wang makes out two checks to cash worth $13,000 in order to pay city officials, he says. Bank records corroborate the statement, prosecutors say.
  • Jan. 11, 2007. Wang e-mails Liyanage that Councilwoman Judy Wong had called Wang to ask “for help on the election.” Wong had called him to ask for $5,000 cash, Wang later testifies.
  • Jan. 21 or 22, 2007. Liyanage e-mails Wang “Also prepare $3,000 for Scott. Cathy (sic) already asked me” and “we have to be careful here can’t leave tracks.” Wilson had asked Liyanage for $8,000 cash for the City Council campaigns of Dave Capra and Scott Carwile, Liyanage later testifies.
  • Wang replies, “Do we do the same … as J.W. to Scott?”
  • Between Jan. 21 and Jan. 25, 2007: Liyanage meets Wilson and Capra in Edward’s Steakhouse in Rosemead to give $5,000 cash to Capra and $3,000 cash to Wilson, which she will give to Carwile, Liyanage says. Wilson reaches into the envelopes and “rearranges” the cash, Liyanage says.
  • Jan. 23, 2007. Carwile orders a $1,039 poster job from Century Screen Arts for his city council campaign.
  • Jan. 24, 2007. Carwile signs a $270.62 check to Contempo Signs for business cards for Hector Gurule, who is running for election for a spot on the board of the L.A. Community College District. Gurule does not report the transaction in his campaign finance records, prosecutors say. Prosecutors later imply Carwile paid for this with money he received from Wang.
  • Jan. 25, 2007. Carwile deposits $3,000 into two separate bank accounts and Wilson deposits $500, according to bank records, prosecutors say. Phone records show “a whole bunch of calls going back and forth between” Wilson and Carwile that day, prosecutors say. On the same day, Liyanage e-mails Wang to confirm he met with Wilson to give money to Carwile.
  • Jan. 26, 2007. Wang gives Judy Wong $5,000 cash through several couriers, according to both Liyanage and Wang. Liyanage gives the cash to his secretary to drop it off at the food court in the Westfield Arcadia mall, where the secretary’s boyfriend works, Liyanage says. A friend of Councilwoman Wong’s later testifies that she picked up an envelope from the food court on behalf of Wong. Phone records show Councilwoman Wong called Liyanage’s secretary on Jan. 26 and 27, prosecutors say.
  • Jan. 27, 2007. Liyanage e-mails Wang to confirm the cash to Councilwoman Wong was picked up. Wang replies in an e-mail that “Judy called me and it is done.”
  • Jan. 31, 2007. Wang records a phone call with Wong, in which she tells Wang that there had been a “leak” of the fact that she had received cash from him earlier that month, prosecutors say. Temple City Unified School District board member Mukesh Luhar’s name is mentioned. Wang later testifies Luhar is Liyanage’s “very close friend.”
  • Feb. 7, 2007. Wong deposits $2,600 in cash, according to bank records, prosecutors say.
  • March 2007. Capra wins election to the City Council; Carwile does not. Neither report receiving contributions from Wang.
  • June 2007. Wang fires Liyanage, after Wang allegedly learns Liyanage was taking “kickbacks” from subcontractors.
  • July 2007. Wang records a voicemail from Cathe Wilson, in which she asks him to meet alone. Wilson later testifies before a county grand jury that the voice on the tape is not hers, and that she never called Wang. Phone records show that a call took place, prosecutors say. Prosecutors later imply Wilson was calling him to re-hire Liyanage.
  • Sept. 6, 2007. Wang gives $2,500 cash to Judy Wong, Wang says.
  • Oct. 6, 2007. Wang gives $1,800 cash to Judy Wong and an $1,800 check to a politician of Wong’s choice, Wang says. This begins a pattern of exchanges in which developer Wang simultaneously gives cash to Wong and writes checks to the political campaigns of Wong’s choosing – including Judy Chu, Mike Eng, Carol Liu and Anthony Portantino – so that Wong may “curry favor” with those politicians, prosecutors say.
  • Oct. 9, 2007. Wong deposits $1,800 in cash, according to her bank records, prosecutors say.
  • Oct. 25, 2007. Anthony Portantino’s campaign for state assembly receives $1,800 from TCD Enterprise Inc., the company owned by Wang. Portantino later sends Wang a letter thanking him for the contribution, prosecutors say.
  • November 2007. The Piazza project breaks ground for the second time; the lot remains empty to this day.
  • Dec. 2, 2007. Wang gives Councilwoman Wong $1,800 cash, and another $1,800 check to a politician of Wong’s choosing, Wang says.
  • Dec. 5, 2007. Wong deposits $1,800 in cash, according to bank records, prosecutors say.
  • Dec. 27, 2007. Carol Liu’s campaign for state senate receives $1,800 from TCD Enterprise Inc., the company owned by Wang.
  • Jan. 6, 2008. Wang gives $1,000 cash to Wong and a $1,000 check to a politician of her choosing, Wang says.
  • January 2008. Wong deposits $2,000, according to bank records, prosecutors say.
  • January 2008. Wang asks the City Council for a two-year extension on the Piazza project, but is denied.
  • Jan. 15, 2008. Judy Chu’s campaign for the State Board of Equalization receives a $1,000 check from TCD Enterprise, Inc., the company owned by Wang.
  • February 2008. Wang writes a check out to cash, according to bank records, prosecutors say.
  • March 26, 2008. Wang gives $1,000 cash to Wong and a $1,000 check to a politician of her choosing, Wang says.
  • April 4, 2008. Mike Eng’s campaign for state assembly receives a $1,000 check from TCD Enterprise Inc., the company owned by Wang. Eng later sends Wang a letter thanking him for the contribution, prosecutors say.
  • April 7, 2008. Councilwoman Wong deposits $1,100 in cash, according to bank records, prosecutors say.
  • April 14, 2008. The city sues Wang, claiming he has not met agreed-upon deadlines and must forfeit the Piazza property.
  • April 29, 2008. Wong deposits $2,000 cash, according to bank records, prosecutors say.
  • May 2, 2008. Wong calls Wang to tell him Wilson and Capra want $50,000 and $48,000, respectively, Wang says, but Wang does not record the conversation.
  • May 3 2008. Developer Wang records a conversation with Wong in which she says “Normally I don’t approve of graft, but you gotta do what you gotta do to get things to go along” and “You don’t have to worry about bribing me, giving me a condominium. I’m good. I have a house, I’m fine,” prosecutors say. The Chinese word that she uses for graft, “Tan Wu,” also means “bribery,” Wang says.
  • May 4-10, 2008. Wang makes further tape recordings of city officials but later deletes them. Some or all of the deleted recordings are later recovered by investigators.
  • September 2008. Wang countersues the city, claiming officials solicited bribes from him.
  • December 2008. City officials testify before a county grand jury investigating Wang’s accusations.
  • Feb. 25, 2009. Armed prosecutors search Temple City Hall and the homes of Wilson, Wong, Capra, Carwile and Liyanage. At Wong’s residence, they seize a “prayer book” in which she writes invocations or curses involving developer Wang. At Wilson’s residence, they seize 33 grams of methamphetamine, and later charge Wilson’s son of felony possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell.
  • March 2009. Wilson loses re-election to the City Council.
  • May 27, 2009. Liyanage pleads guilty to bribing Cathe Wilson, Judy Wong and David Capra. He faces no jail time if he testifies truthfully in court, prosecutors say.
  • June 2, 2009. David Capra pleads guilty to a misdemeanor campaign finance violation and resign from the City Council.
  • June 10, 2009. A 21-count indictment charging Wilson, Wong and Carwile with bribery, perjury and other crimes is unsealed in court.
  • July 23, 2009. Scott Carwile pleads guilty to one felony count of perjury for failing to report a $3,000 cash donation from Wilson, who was allegedly acting as a courier for Wang. He faces no jail time and only three years probation if he testifies truthfully in court, prosecutors say.

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  • robert warkentine

    excuse me but i have yet to see any credit given to temple city sheriff dept. for the raid carried out against the temple city mayor and council members for alleged bribery and extortion charges being sought against them . i would like to give the sheriff dept credit for doing this raid in very fine proffesional manner take em down hard take em down fast take em down now thank you for doing a fine job .. temple city resident .

  • robert warkentine

    i have read alot of news and even complaints from the council members involved in the charges being brought against them . but i have yet to read one comment about the fine job the temple city sheriffs had done when bringing down the mayor and council members when charges of bribery and extortion were filed against these corrupt temple city officials mayor wong and former mayor wilson along with several council members . well i would like to give the temple city sheriffs credit for the raid carried out against the suspects the fine job they did thankyou from myself and the community of temple city ‘ TAKE EM DOWN HARD TAKE EM DOWN FAST TAKE EM DOWN NOW ‘

  • robert warkentine

    i have read alot of news and even complaints from the council members involved in the charges being brought against them . but i have yet to read one comment about the fine job the temple city sheriffs had done when bringing down the mayor and council members when charges of bribery and extortion were filed against these corrupt temple city officials mayor wong and former mayor wilson along with several council members . well i would like to give the temple city sheriffs credit for the raid carried out against the suspects the fine job they did thankyou from myself and the community of temple city ‘ TAKE EM DOWN HARD TAKE EM DOWN FAST TAKE EM DOWN NOW ‘

  • Valerie

    Thank you so much for the time-line. I am a UC Irvine student studying in Criminology and Law, I am doing a research paper on government crime. This really helps me in terms of my paper, thank you very much!

  • robt warkentine

    YOUR WELCOME Valerie

  • TC Watch

    There’s a prologue to this story.
    Former city manager Martin Cole was removed from office once Cathe Wilson was elected. Then City Attorney Charles (Charlie) Martin was given the task to find a new city manager. Teh only person he found qualified for teh job was himself.
    Soon after the story as reported here begins. It would not have been possible without the collusion of that city council to bring the project to town. It was apparent to many citizens what was happening. Charlie Martin’s former law partner Michael Montgomery was Randy Wang’s first attorney. Everything was ramrodded through quickly against the will of the citizens. We knew something was wrong.
    Now we have been proven right: 16 months in state prison for Judy Wong, along with the lifetime stigma of being a convicted felon.