LOS ANGELES (CNS) – Suspended Los Angeles City Council, Jose Huizar, was accused by a federal grand jury in 34 cases today of running a pay-to-play program involving developers for bribes and campaign donations his help was shaken off to get high-rise projects through the city's approval process.
The charges include allegations from last month's criminal complaint that Huizar, 51, of Boyle Heights, was charged with conspiracy to violate the law on racist-influenced and corrupt organizations.
Huizar, the central figure in the town hall's five-year corruption investigation, is accused of accepting $ 1.5 million bribes from developers in return for supporting downtown construction projects. After his arrest in June, he was suspended from the council and indicted on Monday by video conference at the Los Angeles Federal Court.
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The indictment alleges 402 public acts that Huizar and his co-conspirators have committed to promote the criminal company, including bribery, honest fraud, and money laundering, the U.S. Attorney General said.
In addition to the RICO conspiracy charge, the indictment accuses Huizar of a dozen honest service fraud cases, two honest service fraud cases, four cases of interstate travel to support extortion, six bribery cases, and five money laundering cases, and one each Counting the structure of cash deposits to cover up bribes, making false statements to a financial institution, providing false information to federal law enforcement agencies, and tax evasion.
The City Council has represented Council District 14 since 2005, which also includes downtown Los Angeles and the surrounding communities. Huizar chaired the city's powerful planning and land use management committee for several years, a position he lost after the FBI issued search warrants to him at city offices and personal residence in November 2018.
During the ransack of his home, agents confiscated $ 129,000 in cash, which was kept in Huizar's closet and which he was charged with from a Chinese billionaire and another businessman asking for a favor.
The indictment alleges that Huizar operated the program with co-conspirators, including an unnamed former director general of the Los Angeles Department of Building and Security and former vice mayor. George Esparza, Huizar's former special assistant; and real estate development consultant George Chiang.
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Huizar is accused of illegally assuming more than $ 800,000 in benefits from a Chinese billionaire who runs a multinational development company and owns a hotel in the city council district. The executive provided $ 600,000 in collateral to fund the settlement of a lawsuit against Huizar that a former employee had filed against Huizar. According to the indictment, he faces the re-election campaigns of 2015.
The indictment also alleges that Huizar concealed illegal benefits by instructing his assistants how to avoid bank reporting requirements, using family members to launder hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes, providing false information about a bank loan application, and Not reporting the disease – Benefits received from tax returns and ethics disclosure forms. Huizar also reportedly tried to influence other witnesses and lied to the prosecutor and the FBI, the prosecutors said.
Charges for RICO conspiracy, fraudulent service, and money laundering are punishable by up to 20 years imprisonment. The charge for false information against a financial institution is a maximum of 30 years, and the charge for bribery is a maximum of 10 years in the federal prison. Charges for tax evasion, structuring, false statements to law enforcement agencies, and international travel in favor of extortion are up to five years in prison.
Huizar is the fifth person to be indicted in the ongoing corruption investigation by the FBI and the U.S. Attorney General. The other four defendants pleaded guilty.
Esparza, Chiang, and Justin Kim, a Huizar fundraiser that admitted to providing bribes, are scheduled to be sentenced in February by District Court judge John F. Walter. Esparza, Chiang and Kim work together on the investigation.
Former Los Angeles City Councilman Mitch Englander pleaded guilty on July 7 because he intended to falsify key facts related to a businessman-funded trip to Las Vegas and Palm Springs.
Englander's hearing is scheduled for December 7, also before Walter.
LA councilor Huizar has been freed from committee posts as part of an FBI investigation
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