A Beverly Hills developer was arrested Wednesday on federal charges alleging that he bribed a highly placed Los Angeles County employee and offered to buy the staffer a $1 million wine country home in exchange for assistance in obtaining a $45 million lease in a South Bay mall.
Arman Gabaee, known professionally as Arman Gabay, was arrested at his home without incident by special agents with the FBI, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Gabaee, who is charged in a federal criminal complaint with one count of bribery, is expected to make his initial court appearance Wednesday afternoon in downtown Los Angeles.
It was not immediately known if Gabaee, 57, had secured legal representation.
A co-founder and co-managing partner of the Charles Company, a Hollywood-based real estate development firm, Gabaee allegedly paid cash bribes to the county employee for more than six years.
According to the complaint, the employee, who is not named and is cooperating with the FBI, negotiated leases for the county to rent office space from private parties and had “significant autonomy to contractually bind the county.”
The complaint alleges that Gabaee paid the staffer cash bribes of $1,000 or more every month for six years “in exchange for county leases, non-public information, and other benefits.” According to the complaint, Gabaee paid the employee thousands of dollars during secretly recorded meetings in late 2016 and early 2017.
Further, Gabaee allegedly offered to purchase a Santa Rosa home for the county employee last year in exchange for assistance securing a county lease in the Hawthorne Mall, which Gabaee was redeveloping.
According to the complaint, Gabaee wanted the county to enter into a 10-year, $45 million lease to rent space in the shopping center for the Department of Public Social Services and other county departments.
“Business leaders who use their wealth and influence to corrupt our government are a scourge on our community,” U.S. Attorney Nicola T. Hanna said in a statement. “No one, no matter how prominent or wealthy, is above the law.”
According to the complaint, when Gabaee offered to buy the $1 million home on eight acres of land in Santa Rosa wine country, he promised the employee even bigger bribes in the future, saying that things would only get “better” if the employee continued to assist Gabaee with obtaining other county contracts.
In April 2017, Gabaee allegedly placed two offers on the Santa Rosa house. According to the complaint, immediately after FBI agents approached Gabaee and told him they were aware of the bribe arrangement, Gabaee’s latest offer on the property was withdrawn.
If convicted of the bribery charge alleged in the complaint, Gabaee would face up to 10 years in federal prison, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
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