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City Attorney Mike Aguirre has filed two more criminal charges against former Centre City Development Corp. President Nancy Graham, alleging that she broke the law by participating in negotiations about the massive Ballpark Village project.
Graham already faced three conflict-of-interest and ethics charges stemming from her involvement in the selection of the Related Cos., a New York-based development company, as CCDC’s preferred developer of a 41-story, $409-million hotel and condominium project on city-owned land downtown at 7th Avenue and Market Street.
The additional misdemeanor charges, filed Tuesday in San Diego Superior Court, expand the scope of the City Attorney’s Office’s prosecution of Graham, who resigned July 24. They allege that Graham improperly influenced the Ballpark Village project and knew it could benefit Lennar Corp., a nationwide homebuilder that had been Graham’s business partner.
State and local laws prohibit public officials from influencing decisions that can benefit themselves, their spouses or their business associates. The laws extend the prohibition for a year after receiving money from a source.
Before moving to San Diego in 2005, Graham worked as a developer in Florida, where she had a business relationship with Lennar and the Related Group, a large Florida development company partly owned by the Related Cos. Together, they built a mixed-use condominium project, a partnership that Graham estimated had paid her almost $3 million through 2007 — including a $125,000 payment that came in mid-2007.
Testifying under oath in 2007 in a deposition related to a lawsuit, Graham admitted receiving the money, but she did not report it on the annual conflict-of-interest form that public officials are required to submit to the city.
While at CCDC, Graham participated in numerous negotiations about Ballpark Village, a development proposed adjacent to Petco Park, which will include 3 million square feet of mixed-use residential, retail, hotel and office uses. Lennar partly owns the underlying 7.1 acres on which development would occur.
She also participated in negotiations about the Related Cos. project at 7th Avenue and Market Street downtown. Since Graham resigned, CCDC’s board has discarded 7th and Market, but not Ballpark Village. CCDC staff will be required to document the reasons for any changes to the Ballpark Village proposal at the end of ongoing negotiations with the development team led by JMI Realty, Padres owner John Moores’ company.