Liquor Store Owner Admits Bribe Attempt

Times Staff Writer

A Glendale liquor store owner who could lose his liquor license for selling alcohol to a minor has pleaded guilty to attempting to bribe an official from the state Department of Alcohol Beverage Control.

Patana Ongpatanavutikun, 38, owner of M and M Liquor at 1951 W. Glenoaks Blvd., pleaded guilty last week in Pasadena Superior Court to one felony count of bribery solicitation. Ongpatanavutikun was placed on three years' probation and fined $1,000 by Superior Court Judge Sally Disco.

The store owner had been scheduled to stand trial on one felony count of bribery before he entered a guilty plea on the solicitation charge as the result of a deal negotiated between his lawyer and the district attorney's office.

Charge May Be Reduced

The solicitation charge, which involves anyone who solicits another to accept or offer a bribe, can be either a felony or misdemeanor. By pleading guilty, Ongpatanavutikun will be allowed to ask the court to reduce the charge to a misdemeanor after he successfully completes one year of his probation, said Brent Riggs, the deputy district attorney who handled the case. A bribery charge would have had to remain a felony on Ongpatanavutikun's record, Riggs said.

Ongpatanavutikun declined to comment on the court action but said he will sell his business because it has caused him too many problems. He operates the store with his wife, Fang-Ling Chih. Both are immigrants from Thailand who have been in the United States a little more than two years.

Police said that Ongpatanavutikun last June had offered ABC investigator David Robbins $800 in an attempt to prevent suspension of his liquor license after he was cited by Glendale police officers for selling alcohol to a 17-year-old female at his store in May.

Hearing Not Set

Action by the ABC stemming from the May citation and the attempted bribery is still pending, Robbins said. No hearing date has been set, he said.

J. Michael Flanagan, the attorney representing Ongpatanavutikun, said his client's guilty plea to the solicitation charge was "a fair disposition of the case."

After a pretrial hearing in December, Flanagan had claimed that the district attorney's office "didn't have much of a case" against his client, who he said was duped by Robbins. Flanagan said Ongpatanavutikun was merely unfamiliar with legal procedures in this country.

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