A lawyer who promotes his former role as a City of Westminster Planning Commission chairman has been convicted of taking a $15,000 bribe as a commissioner from a woman seeking a liquor license in town.
A federal court jury on Thursday found Dave Vo guilty of one felony count of bribery in a program receiving federal funds.
Vo could get up to 10 years in the federal pen at his sentencing hearing scheduled for Jan. 8 at the Reagan building in downtown Santa Ana.
A Westminster planning commissioner from early 2009 through early 2013, Vo solicited a bribe from a confidential informant who told the FBI in the summer of 2011 about the move, according to federal prosecutors.
The woman, who went to Vo in hopes of obtaining a liquor license for her business, agreed to record her conversations with him for FBI agents. The audio recordings captured Vo quoting the $15,000, telling the woman that an unnamed Westminster city councilman would help with the liquor license and adding that he would receive a kickback from the bribe, prosecutors say.
During the three-day trial, the jury heard that audio and watched video of Vo receiving and counting the $15,000.
Stanley L. Friedman, Vo’s attorney, countered that the informant was a friend of Vo’s, that the recordings do not accurately reflect what was really happening and that the woman was not paying a bribe but repaying Vo for unrelated past legal services. Friedman added that the liquor license request was never submitted to the city.
The identity of the unnamed councilman remains a mystery, although Vo was Tony Diep’s pick for the planning commission. The FBI says there is no evidence any council member knew about the liquor license request.
It is interesting to note that on Dave Vo’s attorney bio on his law firm’s website, his “practice areas” include “Land Use (Rezoning, Beer & Wine License, Liquor License, Entertainment License, variances, etc.).”