Ex-LA Commissioner Accused of Corruption

Friday, August 25, 2006

LOS ANGELES — A politically powerful appointee in former Mayor James Hahn's administration was accused of bribery in the first charges to be filed against a public official in a three-year investigation into City Hall corruption.

The investigation followed allegations that Hahn supporters shook down companies seeking business with the city by trading contracts for political contributions. Hahn, who lost his re-election bid last year, has not been implicated and has denied knowledge of any wrongdoing.

Leland Wong, 49, pleaded not guilty Wednesday in Superior Court to charges of taking $100,000 in bribes to help a Taiwanese shipping company get more space at the Port of Los Angeles.

The indictment said Wong began receiving the bribes from Taipei-based Evergreen Marine Corp. in 2002, while he was an airport commissioner.

At the time, Hahn's office was trying to accommodate the company's request for more space at the port and was pushing an Evergreen affiliate to move its cargo operation out of Los Angeles International Airport.

The indictment was vague in describing what Wong, who also once served on the Harbor Commission, allegedly did for Evergreen. Prosecutors declined to specify, citing grand jury secrecy rules.

The indictment said the bribes came from Ren-Gung Shyu, executive vice president of Evergreen. Shyu's testimony remained under seal, and he was not accused of a crime.

Wong's attorney, Janet Levine, said her client was the victim of a politically motivated"witch hunt."She said state and federal investigators"needed to point to someone"after the three-year probe.

Wong was released on his own recognizance. He could face up to 10 years in prison if convicted on the charges of public corruption, embezzlement, filing false income tax returns and perjury.

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On the Net:

City:http://www.ci.la.ca.us/

Shipping company:http://www.evergreen-marine.com

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