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Cerritos Council Candidate Chuong Vo Collecting Thousands in Questionable Donations While Showing False Endorsement on Campaign Website

Current Cerritos Planning Commissioner Chuong Vo.

Current Cerritos Planning Commissioner Chuong Vo.

By Brian Hews

Hews Media Group-Community News has obtained Cerritos city council candidate finance documents that once again show candidates willing to spend tens of thousands of dollars to be elected to a city council job that pays $1,500 per month.

The documents also show one candidate, current Cerritos Planning Commissioner Chuong Vo, collecting thousands of dollars in donations from very suspect individuals.

With the current filing period ending Jan 17, 2015, Grace Hu leads all candidates with nearly $47,000, followed by Naresh Solanki $38,000, Sophia Tse $37,000, Chuong Vo $23,000, current Cerritos Mayor Mark Pulido $17,000, former Cerritos Mayor Jim Edwards $8,000, Manny Sehti $5,000, Sultan Ahmed $3,500, and Frank Yokoyama $600.

No statements were filed by former ABCUSD Board Member James Kang.

Several candidates have loaned themselves substantial amounts of money to support their campaigns.

Tse loaned her campaign almost $26,000, Pulido over $13,000, Edwards $10,000, Yokoyama $8,000, Hu $7,000, with Sehti, Solanki and Vo each giving their respective campaigns $5,000.

Chuong Vo is a Torrance Police Detective who is heavily supported by current Cerritos Councilman Bruce Barrows and Cerritos Mayor pro tem Carol Chen.

Chen is giving Vo a campaign office rent-free in her building at 11306 183rd St. in Cerritos.

Vo leads all candidates in third party donations with over $18,000.

But it is where those donations came from that will place a magnifying glass on Vo and his financial judgment.

Vo received $2,500 from Deiter Dammeier and Saku Ethir who are partners in a law firm implicated in a high-profile lawsuit filed by two Costa Mesa councilmen.

Ethir was also suspended from the State Bar in 2013.

The Costa Mesa councilmen allege members of their city’s police union, along with Dammeier and Ethir’s law firm, harassed and intimidated them.

The police union, private investigator Chris Lanzillo and Dammeier and Ethir’s Upland-based law firm were all named in the civil suit filed in August 2013.

The suit accuses investigator Lanzillo and the law firm of intimidating the Costa Mesa city councilmen and planting a GPS tracking device on the car of one of the councilmen after contract negotiations between the city and its police union broke down.

That GPS device led Lanzillo to a bar from which he tailed one of the councilmen and falsely reported him to police as a drunk driver, according to the lawsuit.

“So Vo, a police detective, is collecting campaign money from two lawyers who are being sued for taking part in a scheme to frame two city councilmen because negotiations between the police union they represented and the city broke down,” said one candidate who did not want to be identified, “this shows a complete lack of judgment by Mr. Vo.”

The police association fired Dammeier and Ethir soon after the Lanzillo 911 call reporting a possible drunk driver.

Vo Contributors Sued for Malpractice and Fraud

In 2013, a Sacramento-based police union lobbying firm alleging malpractice and fraud relating to overbilling practices sued Dammeier and Ethir.

According to the lawsuit, Ethir had billed for a total of 4,275 hours in one year (11 hours for every day of the year) and Dammeier billed for more than 70 hours in a single day.

In addition, Ethir billed in 2012 on days he was suspended by the State Bar from practicing law, and neither Ethir nor Dammeier told anyone of Ethir’s suspension, according to the lawsuit.

See story click here.

Connections to Cerritos Mayor pro-tem Carol Chen

Vo’s connection to Cerritos Mayor pro-tem Carol Chen is also evident in the campaign filings.

Vo received $6,000 from Charles Zhang President of Zion Enterprises based in San Clemente. HMG-CN reported in March of 2013 that Zhang gave Chen $5,000 in late contributions for her 2013 Cerritos council campaign.

See story click here.

Zhang is a developer of three large shopping, residential, and retirement projects in Artesia.

Zion Enterprises’ website says they “develop incredibly diverse products, from commercial medical office buildings, to big box anchored retail sites, to residential senior condominiums.”

Zhang’s projects included the Artesia Oasis Plaza a retail shopping center, Artesia Grace Court, a residential development, and Artesia Senior Housing.

Vo also received $3,000 from Si Vi Ton from Monterrey Park, $2,000 from Shen Yen a resident of Cerritos, $250 from Carol Chen and $200 from Cerritos Councilman George Ray.

Bogus Website Endorsement

Vo’s website boasts major endorsements from retired Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley, Carol Chen, Assemblywoman Young Kim of the 65th District, Cerritos Councilmen Bruce Barrows and George Ray, Artesia Councilmen Ali Taj and Tony Lima, former Cerritos Mayor Bob Hughlette, and ABC School Board Member Soo Yoo.

All were sent emails asking for comment. As of the time of this article posting, only Artesia Councilman Ai Taj responded.

Bringing into question the endorsements Vo exhibits on his website, an irate Councilman Taj told HMG-CN, “I am very surprised at this. I have endorsed only two candidates for the Cerritos City Council race, Mayor Pulido and Sophie Tse. My endorsement does not include the above mentioned candidate Chuong Vo.”

Others endorsing on Vo’s website are Nick Kim, Cerritos Planning Commissioner; Becky Lingad, Cerritos Planning Commissioner; Larry Sagert, Former Cerritos Planning Commissioner; Brad Beach, Cerritos Parks and Recreation Commissioner; Jack Reidy, Cerritos Parks and Recreation Commissioner; James Fong Yee, Ph.D, Cerritos Parks and Recreation Commissioner; Robert D. Buell Cerritos Economic Development Commissioner; Rosalinda Law, Cerritos Economic Development Commissioner; Philip H. Hickok, Cerritos Property Preservation Commissioner and Retired Judge; Samuel Chu, Cerritos Property Preservation Commissioner; Waldo Arballo, Cerritos Property Preservation Commissioner; Elayne Shiohama, Cerritos Fine Arts and Historical Commission; Gordon Hom, Cerritos Community Safety Committee Member; Victor Gau, Cerritos Community Safety Committee Member; K.Y.  Ma, Cerritos Community Safety Committee Member; Matt Kauble, Cerritos Community Safety Committee Member; Jennifer Hong , Cerritos Let Freedom Ring Committee and Laverne Tancill, Friends of Arts Education Trustee.

Other campaign documents show that Grace Hu, who has the most cash on hand, has not taken one dollar in donations. Similarly, Frank Yokoyama has $8,000 in the bank with no donations.

Campaign Statements for Each Candidate can be found by clicking links below.

Chuong Vo

Grace Hu

Naresh Solanki

Mark Pulido

Sophie Tse

Sultan Ahmad

Frank Yokoyama

Jim Edwards

Manny Sehti



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