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Former LA County Official to be Sentenced in Bribery Case

Published on Monday, January 23, 2023 | 7:28 pm
 

A former official in Los Angeles County’s real estate division, who was involved in awarding contracts to developers and contractors, was sentenced today to two years probation for lying to FBI agents and filing a false tax return in an effort to cover up his receipt of bribes.

Thomas M. Shepos, 72, of Palmdale, was also ordered to pay $110,021 in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Shepos admitted accepting bribes from Arman Gabay, 61, of Beverly Hills, who pleaded guilty to a federal bribery count in connection with his attempts to secure a $45 million county lease in the Hawthorne Mall.

Gabay and his brother Mark, who co-founded Charles Company, purchased the 242,000-square-foot complex at 2 North Lake Ave. and East Colorado Boulevard from Singpoli Capital in 2021, records show.

Gabay – also known as Gabaee — was sentenced last month to four years in federal prison for paying off Shepos in exchange for help obtaining the government lease.  Gabay admitted paying cash bribes to Shepos.

 Shepos, 72, of Palmdale, pleaded guilty in November 2018 to felony charges of making false statements in which he denied receiving bribes and kickbacks while working for the county and filing a false return for the year 2014 in which he failed to report $139,400 in income, including more than $100,000 in bribe payments he received from a Beverly Hills developer, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Shepos admitted failing to report a total of $434,000 in income received over a seven-year period. As part of his plea deal, Shepos agreed to cooperate with an ongoing federal investigation, according to papers filed in Los Angeles federal court.

For about 20 years, until his retirement, Shepos worked in the county’s real estate division, where he negotiated leases and contract terms with private developers and contractors. According to the plea agreement, because of his seniority, Shepos had “significant autonomy to contractually bind the county.”

Gabaee was pushing to have Los Angeles County enter into a 10-year, $45 million lease to rent space in the mall — which the developer owned through one of his companies and was renovating — for the Department of Public Social Services and other county departments.

Beginning in 2010 or 2011, Gabaee began giving Shepos monthly bribe payments of $1,000 or more in exchange for Shepos providing Gabaee with non- public information and preferential treatment.

When interviewed by federal agents in November 2016, Shepos lied about the bribery schemes, falsely claiming that he had never received anything of value from anyone doing business with the county.

Shepos also lied about numerous unexplained deposits into his bank accounts, claiming that the funds were gambling proceeds, as opposed to bribes or kickbacks, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

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