Accomplice of former councilor gets six years


TAIPEI, CNA

The Taipei District Court sentenced an accomplice of a former Taipei city councilor involved in extortion to six years in prison yesterday.

The court also ruled that Hung Cheng-hsiung,owner of a construction company who helped former Taipei city councilor Lo Tsung-sheng extort money from several other construction companies, will be stripped of his citizenship rights for two years after he has finished serving his prison term.

The court said that it will pass sentence on Lo and another accomplice, Cheng Hai-yuan, at a later date.

Lo, a two-term Taipei city councilor who served until December 2006, was charged in June last year with extorting money from four construction companies in the 2002-2004 period.

Although Lo has been released from custody on NT$800,000 bail and is barred him from leaving the country, he has never appeared in court proceedings. He has been placed on the nation’s most wanted list.

Public prosecutors in Taipei are seeking a 17 year sentence for Lo, charged with forcing four construction companies to “donate” some NT$4 million to ensure that he would keep quiet about their unlawful dumping of construction debris.

The victims claimed that Lo and his aides had used their access to files at the Maintenance Office of the city government’s Department of Public Works to obtain information about which construction companies were found to have illegally dumped construction waste.

Lo and his aides would then allegedly demand money from the companies and threaten to blow the whistle on them if they did not cooperate.

According to the four construction companies, Lo would accept the cash and pretend that he “borrowed” the money by writing a check to each of them, but the checks would always bounce.

The ruling Democratic Progressive Party stripped Lo of his party membership in July 2006. He sought a third city council term but lost the election in December last year.