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Appeal by citizens’ group dismissed in lawsuit over Angel Stadium sale

Did the city of Anaheim do something wrong in negotiating the Angel Stadium sale, or was any impropriety limited to the former mayor named in an FBI corruption investigation?

In March, an Orange County Superior Court judge cleared the city of alleged violations of the state’s good-government law. In May, after the investigation became public and the FBI agent suggested the new information might have persuaded the judge to rule differently, the citizens’ group that had sued the city filed an appeal.

On Tuesday, the state court of appeal dismissed the case — not on its merits, but because the citizens’ group had not deposited the proper fees with the court. The court left open the possibility of reinstating the case if the group could show “good cause” within 30 days for failing to make the required deposits.

The attorney for the group — the Peoples Homeless Task Force of Orange County — did not respond to a message left Tuesday afternoon.

In the case, originally filed in Orange County Superior Court in 2020, the group asked the court to void the sale over allegations the city had not complied with the Brown Act, the state’s government transparency law.

“There is no basis to nullify the decision,” Judge David Hoffer wrote in his ruling.

But, according to FBI Special Agent Brian Adkins, former mayor Harry Sidhu’s actions “may have affected the ruling” because a cooperating witness said Sidhu gave him information about a land appraisal so he could share that information with the Angels. Because that information came from a closed session of the city council, Adkins wrote, “Sidhu’s actions may have violated the Brown Act.”

Sidhu’s attorney has denied that his client gave any such information to the Angels.

In the week after the FBI investigation surfaced, Sidhu resigned, and the remaining members of the City Council voted unanimously to kill a deal in which Angels owner Arte Moreno would have surrounded Angel Stadium with a neighborhood atop 130 acres of parking lots.

Even with the deal dead, the group filed an appeal, in which the court could have issued a finding that the city broke the law and imposed sanctions. The city has denied it violated the law.

The Angels were 27-17 (.614) before the sale was killed, and one game out of first place in the American League West. They were 13-39 (.250) before Tuesday’s game since then, and they have fallen 23 1/2 games out of first place.

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