LA city councilor Jose Huizar arrested on corruption charges – CBS Los Angeles

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LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – More than 18 months after federal officials raided his office, longtime Los Angeles city councilor Jose Huizar has become the fifth and most prominent person to be arrested in corruption investigation ongoing in which city hall officials accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes. real estate developers.

FILE – LA City Councilor Jose Huizar speaks on the steps of City Hall on February 17, 2013 in Los Angeles. (Getty Images)

Huizar, 51, was arrested Tuesday at his Boyle Heights home on charges of conspiring to violate Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) law.

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He first appeared in court Tuesday afternoon, where US trial judge Paul L. Abrams ordered his release on $ 100,000 bail.

He did not plead against the racketeering charge. A preliminary hearing has been tentatively scheduled for July 14 and an indictment for July 20.

He faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison if convicted of the charges.

In November 2018, the FBI raided Huizar’s home and offices.

However, Huizar was not arrested at the time and remained in office despite repeated calls for resignation. He was too withdrawn from several board committees, including the “powerful” planning and land use committee, “where it decided which projects lived and which projects died,” US Attorney Nick Hanna said at a press conference Tuesday morning.

the 116 page affidavit “accuses Huizar of having set up a payment-to-gamble system in which he and his associates solicited bribes from developers to ensure their project receives favorable treatment during the approval process of the city, ”Hanna said.

Huizar was able to wield tremendous influence, Hanna said, as much of the real estate development in recent years has been concentrated in the area he represented, Boyle Heights.

During that November 2018 search, $ 129,000 in cash was found hidden in a closet, prosecutors reported Tuesday.

Hanna said a real estate developer gave Huizar $ 500,000 in cash in paper bags to help resolve a labor dispute. the political fundraiser who served as an intermediary and helped facilitate this money transfer reached a plea deal with prosecutors earlier this year.

In addition, Huizar has benefited from more than a dozen trips to casinos in the United States and abroad, during which he received $ 250,000 in gambling chips.

A Chinese real estate developer posted $ 600,000 as collateral so Huizar could get a bank loan to repay a woman who accused him of sexual harassment, according to the complaint. When Huizar stopped repaying the loan, the collateral was used to repay the remainder of the loan.

Huizar expected his wife to show up for her seat in order to to be able to continue the corruption model, Hanna revealed.

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“Sadly, the great exterior of (LA) has hid cancer, a disease of elected officials and staff breaking a series of laws in order to line their pockets, maintain power and keep a bribe faucet open. – illicit wine and other benefits, ”says Hanna.

Money seized from Huizar’s home in an FBI raid in November 2018 (United States Attorney’s Office)

On Tuesday afternoon, a number of protesters came to Huizar’s home to serve a symbolic eviction notice and ask him to step down.

“Someone will have to replace him,” said Charlie Olivia, a resident of Boyle Heights. “Someone with good training and good character.”

In March, former LA city councilor Mitch Englander was arrested for accepting thousands of dollars in cash, a female escort and expensive hotel rooms from a businessman who operated businesses in Los Angeles and was involved in large development projects and wanted to expand his business with the city. He agreed to plead guilty a few weeks after arrest.

Englander represented the 12th District of the San Fernando Valley from 2011 to December 2018, when he abruptly resigned with two years remaining in his mandate.

Last month, former Huizar collaborator George Esparza, 33, has agreed to plead guilty to a charge of conspiracy as part of the corruption program.

A real estate development advisor accepted a plea deal in the case last month as well as,

In December 2019, partly in response to the Huizar affair, the city council unanimously adopted an ordinance prohibiting real estate developers from contributing to political candidates running for municipal elections.

Huizar has represented District 14 since 2005, which is primarily made up of the Boyle Heights area. He is barred from running for re-election due to term limits when his current term expires in November.

He has faced several legal issues since taking office. In 2012, he was involved in a traffic accident in which he struck another vehicle from behind. The city was forced to pay up to $ 185,000 as part of a settlement.

In 2014, the city settled a sexual harassment complaint filed by a former staff member.

LA City Council Chairman Nury Martinez made the following statement on Tuesday:

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While today’s announcement of the arrest of council member Huizar is not unexpected, the horrific and disgusting allegations made against him and others have cast a dark cloud over our municipal government for a long time now, ” said board chairman Nury Martinez. “Effective today, I will begin the process of removing her from office so that the right people in Municipal District 14 and the City of Los Angeles are fairly and honorably represented.” It is our duty and we must do it.


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