Scandal at City Hall

Looking for answers from the new head of Wessman Development

Three charged in Scandal at City Hall

Michael Braun refuses on camera...

PALM SPRINGS, Calif. - Michael Braun took over management of Wessman Development after the former president, John Wessman, stepped down after being charged by the Riverside County District Attorney's Office with bribery. 

KESQ and CBS Local 2 have repeatedly asked Braun for an on-camera-interview. At first, those requests were denied via emails stating that Braun will not be making any comment while there is ongoing litigation.

 As our coverage has continued, Braun has agreed to an interview. KESQ's I-Team will bring that interview to you soon.

Wessman Development owns the Downtown Redevelopment Project in Palm Springs which is partially being paid for with $43 million in public funds.   

This month the DA's office filed bribery charges on developers John Wessman and Richard Meaney as well as former Palm Springs Mayor Steve Pougnet. 

At the Monday night meeting, Braun read a written statement to the Palm Springs City Council which said in part, "the serious charges against John Wessman remain, until prove otherwise. Although further claims may surface, all parties to this litigation have been identified, and there are no reasons to believe other members to these regrettable events will be charged."

News Channel 3 and CBS Local 2 reporter Joe Galli approached Braun after his statement to ask him questions about the project and Braun grabbed Galli's phone and said he would not do on-camera interviews and would only answer questions via email. 

Dozens of Palm Springs residents came to the meeting to ask questions and give their thoughts on what should be done with the project.

Some believe the three men being charged in this case are just the tip of the iceberg. 

"I think they are a far cry from a clean bill of health, because from what the district attorney said that this was a scheme to influence the vote of at least five people on city council. If you read the indictments, the influence went all the way down through the planning commission and the Architectural Advisory Board. So we have a lot of cleaning up to do," said Judy Deertrack, of Palm Springs.


*Editor's note: This story was originally published with information that Braun continually denied requests for interviews, but has been updated in March, since an on-camera interview has been scheduled. 

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