Santa Ana Seal

Posted: Monday, December 2, 2013 10:23 am | Updated: 8:42 pm, Mon Dec 2, 2013.

Barry Levine, on behalf of a former investor with the Santa Ana developer behind a 271-unit apartment complex known as “The Met at South Coast,” has alleged corruption at City Hall and submitted a bundle of records that he says prove it.

Among other things, the New York-based investor ILUS GP US is alleging that Vineyards Development Corp., developer of the complex, wrote a $10,000 check to a now-defunct Hollywood nightclub called Geisha House that was spent on a party for Santa Ana Councilwoman Michele Martinez.

If that allegation were to be proven, Martinez could be in violation of state law governing gifts received by public officials.

Once partners in The Met, Levine and Ryan Ogulnick of Vineyards Development Corp. are now in a bitter court dispute involving investment in the project.

In addition to his claims regarding Martinez, Levine also asserts that Councilman Roman Reyna violated conflict of interest law because he did not recuse himself from a vote on one of Ogulnick’s projects. However, the amount allegedly given to Reyna was under $750.

Martinez vehemently denied doing anything improper and from the dais at the last council meeting threatened to sue Levine for slander. “My attorney will be contacting you, because what you’re doing is slander. I do not control a PAC nor was $10,000 ever given to me,” Martinez said.

“What you’re doing is called anti-SLAPP,” replied Levine, a reference to the free speech state statute that is often used to strike down defamation lawsuits.

Levine sent his packet to City Attorney Sonia Carvalho and at the council meeting submitted a copy to City Clerk Maria Huizar.

In an interview last week, Martinez said she has “nothing to hide.” She referred to a recent Voice of OC article on a questionable property deal involving Santa Ana Mayor Miguel Pulido and urged the FBI to launch a full investigation into Santa Ana politics.

“The way I look at it, I believe the FBI should come in and investigate all these allegations,” Martinez said. “Why not bring the FBI? What do we have to hide?”

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