Former Westminster planning commissioner charged with soliciting $15,000 bribe

Eileen M. Decker, United States Attorney Central District of California speaks during a press conference at the United States Attorney's Office in the Los Angeles, CA February 10, 2016.
(Francine Orr/ Los Angeles Times)

A former member of Westminster’s planning commission was arraigned Tuesday on charges of soliciting and receiving a $15,000 bribe in exchange for helping a business owner get a liquor license, according to federal officials.

Dave Phuong Dinh Vo of Westminster pleaded not guilty, but in a plea agreement made public by federal prosecutors and signed by Vo, he admitted to soliciting the money in June 2011 from a confidential informant working with the FBI.

Laura Eimiller, a spokeswoman for the FBI, said that Vo has agreed to plead guilty at a later court date.


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Citing the U.S. attorney’s office, she said: “The practice in this district is for the magistrate judge at an arraignment to take a ‘not guilty’ plea from a defendant and assign the case to a district judge for all further proceedings, including the entry of a guilty plea.”

In August 2011, Vo received payments totaling $15,000 over the course of four meetings, after pushing the liquor license through the city’s approval process, according to officials.

Vo, 42, served as a planning commissioner from early 2009 through late August 2011, a role that allowed him to influence issuing conditional -use permits.

“Public officials like Mr. Vo must serve the interests of the public at all times,” said U.S. Atty. Eileen M. Decker. “The people of Westminster deserve to have confidence that their government is granting permits based on merit rather than those willing to pay bribes.”

FBI officials investigated the case against Vo, whose bribery charge carries a statutory maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison.

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