The FBI has been told that St. Paul Mayor Randy Kelly’s senior policy adviser, Sia Lo, allegedly demanded a $75,000 bribe last year from a businessman who wanted to develop a Hmong funeral home with city backing, a source interviewed by the FBI said Wednesday.
The businessman rejected Lo’s demand and dropped out, the source said. Soon the deal came together for the Vang Pao Foundation, which had been negotiating for the site for several years but was having trouble raising the money.
The Vang Pao Foundation is a charitable organization that is currently under investigation by the state attorney general’s office for allegedly soliciting funds without being registered as a public charity since 2000.
Lo, 38, has vigorously denied the bribery allegation. He is on vacation while Kelly considers placing him on administrative leave. Lo worked closely on the funeral home project with his personal friend at the Vang Pao Foundation, Cha Vang. And Lo’s sister, Song Lo Fawcett, was involved in the funeral home deal as a private attorney.
Cha Vang, who listed himself on deal documents as “senior project adviser” for the Vang Pao Foundation, did not return phone calls Wednesday. He has previously denied wrongdoing.
He is the son of revered Hmong military leader Gen. Vang Pao.
Former St. Paul Police officer Tou Mo Cha has alleged that Cha Vang told him he could get City Hall to fix a liquor license problem for $10,000 to $20,000. That allegation is part of a new FBI probe initiated by St. Paul Police Chief John Harrington.