CALIFORNIA—A federal grand jury charged a Los Angeles City Councilman, Jose Huizar, on July 30 with a 34-count indictment alleging he ran a criminal enterprise where he used his power to give favorable treatment to developers that helped facilitate bribes as well as enriching himself and close associates.
Huizar, 51, has been representing District 14 (CD-14) for the Los Angeles City Council since 2005. “Huizar for several years was chair of the city’s influential Planning and Land Use Management Committee, a position he lost after the FBI executed search warrants at his city offices and personal residence in November 2018,” states a press release from the Department of Justice.
The release further states that while searching Huizar’s home, a large sum of $129,000 in cash was discovered in the closet and reported to be from a Chinese businessman and one other party seeking favors from the councilman. Huizar’s indictment includes a count that falls under the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act in which extremely criminal organizations are to be prosecuted with extended criminal penalties.
“In addition to the RICO conspiracy charge, the indictment charges Huizar with the following criminal charges: 12 counts of honest services wire fraud; two counts of honest services mail fraud; four counts of traveling interstate in aid of racketeering; six counts of bribery; five counts of money laundering; one count of structuring cash deposits to conceal bribes; one count of making a false statement to a financial institution; one count of making false statements to federal law enforcement; and one count of tax evasion,” states the release.
Huizar has allegedly agreed to accept at least $1.5 million in illicit financial benefits. The charges of RICO conspiracy, honest services fraud, and money laundering each carry a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison. The charge of making false statements to a financial institution has a statutory maximum sentence of 30 years’ imprisonment. The bribery charges each carry a statutory maximum sentence of 10 years in federal prison. The charges of tax evasion, structuring, making false statements to law enforcement, and interstate travel in aid of racketeering have a five-year maximum prison sentence.
The councilman is the fifth person to be charged in the ongoing corruption investigation being conducted by the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office. The others include: Esparza, Chiang, and Justin Jangwoo Kim, a Huizar fundraiser who admitted to facilitating bribes/ They are scheduled to be sentenced by United States District Judge John F. Walter in February 2021.
Huizar is expected to appear via videoconference for his arraignment, which is scheduled for August 3 in United States District Court.