Member of Oakland Recycling Contractor’s Family Linked to Former Cafe Under Investigation

A member of the family that operates Oakland’s recycling contractor, California Waste Solutions, has been linked to a former cafe and karaoke lounge that was under investigation for alleged drug dealing, pimping, and human trafficking. Andy Duong, who is part of the Duong family running the recycling company, was identified as the proprietor of the Music Cafe, which closed in February 2019. The cafe was associated with “straw donors” allegedly used by Duong to conceal donations to Oakland and South Bay candidates.

Andy Duong’s Oakland Hills home, along with his father David Duong’s residence and Mayor Sheng Thao’s residence, were searched by federal authorities on June 20. The offices of California Waste Solutions were also searched. However, Andy Duong has not been arrested or charged in connection with the 2018 investigation of the Music Cafe by the Alcoholic Beverage Control.

The investigation into the cafe resulted in three arrests and two individuals being convicted of conspiracy and accessory charges. Charlie Ngo, an alleged “straw donor” on behalf of the Duong family, was arrested on suspicion of narcotics sales during the raid at the cafe. Ngo and others associated with the cafe donated approximately $18,000 to Oakland City Council candidates between 2016 and 2018, with the funds allegedly coming from Andy Duong.

Since 2019, Andy and David Duong have been under investigation by city ethics investigators for allegedly bypassing campaign finance limits by using multiple individuals and businesses to funnel money to candidates. The investigation is ongoing.

The Music Cafe, also known as Sancha Bar, was the subject of a 2018 investigation by the Alcoholic Beverage Control. Undercover agents reported obtaining drugs from the cafe’s workers and being offered female companions for a fee. The cafe closed four months after the raid, and three individuals were arrested and charged in connection with the investigation.

The alleged straw donor, Charlie Ngo, faced charges related to possession and sale of ketamine, but those charges were later dismissed. Ngo made campaign contributions to several Oakland and San Jose council members, including Mayor Sheng Thao, who received $2,400 from individuals associated with the cafe.

The investigation revealed that Ngo did not have sufficient funds in his bank account to make the contributions he made. City investigators found that he made large deposits just before or after writing checks to the candidates.

Assembly Member Ash Kalra provided text messages from Andy Duong discussing the Music Cafe and his karaoke club. Kalra stated that he understood Duong to be an owner of the business but did not discuss campaign contributions with him.

The criminal defense attorney representing Charlie Ngo raised concerns about potential political motivations and disproportionate targeting of people of color in the investigations. Ngo, who now resides in Sacramento, made a campaign contribution to Terry Wiley, a candidate for Alameda County District Attorney, on the same day the case against him was dismissed.

Terry Wiley, who is set to become an Alameda County judge, denied knowledge of the donation and stated that he had no relationship with Ngo.

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