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Wong Accused Of Accepting Bribe
POSTED: 2:23 pm PST December 19, 2006
LOS ANGELES -- A judge Tuesday denied a defense challenge to an indictment against longtime city political insider Leland Wong, who is accused of taking a $100,000 bribe while he was an airport commissioner.
Wong, 49, is indicted on charges including accepting a bribe and conflict of interest. He is also accused of embezzling from Kaiser Permanente, where he worked as director of government relations.
A former deputy mayor in Jim Hahn's administration, Troy Edwards, testified before a grand jury that he got free massages, sometimes with sexual fondling from the masseuse, when he went to the Bonaventure Club in downtown Los Angeles with Wong. Wong's attorneys, meanwhile, have denied their client had anything to do with the sexual favors Edwards received.
During the hearing, Wong's attorney Jeffrey Rutherford said the indictment against Wong failed to state necessary elements of several of the charged offenses.
Rutherford said portions of the indictment at issue lack details needed for the defense to prepare for trial. He said prosecutors "blew it" when it came to preparing the document.
Superior Court Judge Michael Johnson was unswayed, however, saying the elements of the alleged offenses are shown in the grand jury transcript.
"It's not a mystery as to what you need to prepare for, or what the issues at trial will be," Johnson said.
Wong is accused of misappropriating funds from Kaiser by getting regular massages for himself and others at the Bonaventure Club. Prosecutors also contend that Wong was "attempting to influence" Edwards on behalf of Evergreen Shipping.
Wong -- who also served on the city's Harbor and Water and Power commissions -- resigned from the Water and Power Commission and Kaiser Permanente in January 2004.
He is due back in court Feb. 14 for another hearing.
Copyright 2006 by NBC4.tv. City News Service contributed to this report. All rights reserved.