Los Angeles councilman faces 34 federal charges in alleged bribery scheme

A federal grand jury returned a 34-count indictment Thursday against Los Angeles City Councilman Jose Huizar, alleging that he accepted bribes, concealed income, took out taxes and lied to investigators.

Huizar, 61, is accused of accepting $ 1.5 million in “illegal financial gain” by the US Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles in a statement. He was arrested last month and released on $ 100,000 bond.

Ciaran McAvoy, a spokesman for the US Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles, said a previous federal charge of conspiracy to violate the RacketierInflight and Corrupt Organization Act was included in Thursday’s indictment.

A spokesman for Huizar did not immediately respond on Thursday evening to a request for comment.

The new charges include wire fraud, multiple counts of mail fraud, racketeering, bribery and money laundering, traveling interstate and single counts of cash deposits to conceal bribes, misrepresenting financial institution to bribe, False statement of federal law. Enforcement and tax evasion.

The case stems from allegations that Huzar took bribes from an unnamed Chinese billionaire developer and others in exchange for favorably weighing in on proposed construction projects.

Huizar was the chairman of the city’s powerful Planning and Land Use Management Committee.

The indictment alleges that the councilor received about $ 800,000 in profits from the billionaire, described by the US Attorney’s Office as a multinational developer who owns a hotel in the Huizer district.

The developer wanted to build a 77-story building in Huizar’s district.

Prosecutors alleged in last month’s criminal complaint that Huizar received “direct and indirect financial benefits” in more than a dozen visits to Las Vegas casinos, including riding on private jets and staying in posh villas.

The US Attorney’s Office said it failed to report its “illegal benefits” on tax returns.

According to the US Jury Attorney’s statement, the grand jury indictment alleged that Huzar operated his office as a “criminal organization”, and that others including the former deputy mayor, Huzar’s special assistant and a real estate development consultant Participated.

In May, George Esparza, 33, a “special assistant” to Huzar by 2017, agreed to plead guilty and cooperate with investigators about his role in the alleged scheme.

The FBI raided Huizar’s home and office in November 2018, and his committee’s works were later scrapped.

Federal prosecutors said in their statement, “During a search of his home, agents seized cash of about $ 129,000 in Huzar’s closet that he had found from a Chinese billionaire and another businessman.”

Huizar was scheduled to be debated in federal court via videoconferencing on Monday.

The indictment is part of a broader investigation into the City Hall corruption in Los Angeles that saw five people charged. Former Councilman Mitch Engler pleaded guilty earlier this month to misrepresenting facts about the trips, funded by a businessman he took to Las Vegas and Palm Springs.

Huizar has represented the city area since 2005.

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