— Word from good sources at city hall has it that the county grand jury has launched a major investigation of corruption charges involving the city's ticket guarantee contract with the Chargers. Under threat of subpoena, city officials have reportedly handed over hundreds of pages of secret minutes from the many closed sessions held by the city council in the months leading up to the approval of the controversial deal, which requires city taxpayers guarantee 60,000 seats be sold for each football game. And many city officials themselves expect to be subpoenaed in the case. "This one is really big," says an excited official. "I think they're trying to blow the lid off this place."

City of frauds

A former savings and loan executive convicted of fraud a decade ago will be spending most of next year behind bars, but that's not the worst of it. Raymond M. Gray made headlines ten years ago when, instead of showing up for sentencing, he went on the lam to Tijuana. Gray had been convicted of bank fraud in an $18 million case involving an S&L he ran near Seattle. He was eventually caught and did three and a half years in the slammer before most of his convictions were reversed by an appellate court, and he was released pending further appeals. Federal prosecutors claimed he returned to Rancho Santa Fe and resumed his fraudulent ways. Last week a judge in Washington state re-affirmed his remaining one-year sentence, telling Gray to report to federal prison in early January. Gray said most of his business ventures had gone bankrupt, so he couldn't afford to pay $2.15 million in court-ordered restitution. Gray also told the judge he was sorry for his crimes -- and was especially downhearted because the jail time meant he wouldn't be able to use his tickets to the Super Bowl ... Peter Dewan, known as Peter Dhawan when he was a high-flying retail executive living in La Jolla during the 1980s, shot and killed himself in Dallas on October 21. Dewan, 59, was facing trial in Boise, Idaho, on 21 counts of bankruptcy fraud, money laundering, bank fraud, wire fraud, and criminal forfeiture in connection with failed real estate ventures there. In the '80s Dewan was the toast of La Jolla society before U-Save, a discount warehouse business he had started here, crumbled into bankruptcy.

Politics was never like this

Two titans of the car alarm business are fighting it out in a Detroit courtroom, with possible repercussions for California politics. Darrell Issa, owner and founder of Vista's Directed Electronics, is pitted against Rand Mueller, president and CEO of Detroit's Code-Alarm, Inc. Self-made millionaire Issa is running for a seat in the U.S. Senate against state Treasurer Matt Fong and Mayor Susan Golding. Code-Alarm is suing Directed Electronics for patent-infringement. In June 1995, Directed won its own patent-infringement suit against Code-Alarm, and other cases are pending. The fight is getting nasty. "Mr. Issa seems interested in only three things: selling Directed [Electronics] to an outside buyer, running for political office and, in our opinion, trying to damage Code-Alarm's business," Mueller said in a news release reported by Crain's Detroit Business newspaper last week. Replied Issa: "That release was just a rehash. There was no new news. They are just trying to embarrass me and make me look like I'm another crooked businessman running for political office." A local car alarm retailer told Crain's: "It's really transcended a legal battle between these two. If someone could extract the emotions out of this, it could be done a lot sooner. It's created mistrust of both companies among dealers. It brings up questions about each company's health and vitality."

Names

An investment outfit owned by John Moores, who is seeking city money to build a new baseball stadium for the Padres, just bought a big stake in BindView, a Houston software maker. Moores, who made his first fortune with his own software company, shared the $18 million deal with General Atlantic Partners -- the nation's largest high-tech venture capital firm ... Garland Burrell, the African-American judge who is presiding over the trial of alleged Unabomber Theodore Kaczynski, got his law degrees from California Western School of Law.

Contributor: Matt Potter

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