Jose Huizar (Getty)
A federal grand jury on Thursday indicted once-influential Los Angeles councilor Jose Huizar for 34 charges related to a $ 1.5 million bribery and corruption program he allegedly had in his City Hall office had performed.
The indictment alleges "402 overt acts Huizar and his co-conspirators have done to promote their criminal enterprise …" said the Central District of California Attorney General. Huizar is scheduled to be indicted on Monday.
Prosecutors say Huizar used his position in the town hall to enrich himself and his close staff. Huizar supported property developers and their projects, which were submitted to the city council for consideration, in return for bribes and other gifts of approximately $ 1.5 million, the prosecutor said.
The list of fees for laundries includes 12 cases of fraud involving honest service, six cases of bribery and five cases of money laundering. Huizar received four charges including interstate travel to support harassment and false statements to federal law enforcement agencies.
The FBI arrested Huizar in late June for a conspiracy to violate the law on racist and corrupt organizations.
The federal government has been investigating Huizar since at least 2018 when agents raided his home and town hall office.
Huizar is represented by lawyers from the Federal Defense Office, according to the L.A. Times. They refused to comment on the charges.
The indictment provides some new details on the criminal company that the federal government has accused Huizar of serving as a councilor for Downtown LA and chairman of the Council's powerful planning and land use committee.
Huizar reportedly accepted more than $ 800,000 in benefits from a person named Chairman E, who is described as "a Chinese billionaire who runs a multinational development company and owns a hotel in the Huizar district." Earlier reports from The Real Deal identified this company as Shenzhen New World Group headed by billionaire Wei Huang. The company submitted plans to build a 77-story tower in the Huizar district in 2018. (Although Shenzen New World is a Chinese conglomerate, it also received $ 4 to $ 10 million in coronavirus aid in the United States.)
The figure of $ 800,000 included $ 600,000 for the settlement of a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by a former employee against Huizar. This was outlined in a plea by former Huizar employee George Esparza, who later became deputy mayor.
Other developers are also affected by the scandal. Carmel Partners released a senior executive, Neils Cotter, on charges that linked the company to Huizar with $ 125,000 in bribes.
Huizar is the fifth person accused of the investigation, alongside Esparza, former employee George Chiang, fundraiser Justin Kim and former council member Mitchell Englander.
All four others pleaded guilty to various charges earlier this year.
The charges against Huizar include a maximum sentence of between five and 30 years in prison. The charge of having given false information to a financial institution is at the upper end of this spectrum. The RICO conspiracy and two other cases result in a maximum sentence of 20 years.