Accused of accepting at least $1.5 million in bribes for political favors, Los Angeles City Councilman Jose Huizar was arrested Tuesday and charged with one count of conspiring to violate the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act.
"Councilman Huizar violated the public trust to a staggering degree, allegedly soliciting and accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes from multiple sources over many years", he said. The criminal complaint alleges that Huizar and his associates violated a series of laws, including bribery, honest services fraud, extortion, and money laundering.
Huizar, 51, of Boyle Heights, was taken into custody at his home without incident and is expected to make his initial appearance this afternoon in United States District Court in downtown Los Angeles.
"The federal investigation has revealed that Huizar operated a pay-to-play scheme in the City, utilizing and commodifying the powerful Council seat of CD-14, whereby he solicited and accepted financial benefits from global (primarily Chinese) and domestic developers with projects in the City in exchange for favorable official actions", according to the affidavit in support of the criminal complaint.
The mayor and other city leaders have been calling for Huizar to resign since his former special assistant agreed to plead guilty in the bribery scheme.
The U.S. Attorney's Office Los Angeles said that in the 2018 raid, approximately $129,000 in cash was seized from Huizar's home.
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Another individual, Justin Jangwoo Kim, a middleman in one of the enterprise's schemes, pleaded guilty to bribery charges on June 3.
Huizar's arrest caps a lengthy investigation into corruption in America's second-largest city. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison.
He continued to serve and vote on the council until early March of 2020, when City Council President Nury Martinez asked Huizar to no longer participate in its meetings.
Jose Huizar, an elected member of the Los Angeles City Council, was arrested Tuesday on federal racketeering charges that allege he accepted bribes to help real estate developers secure approval for their projects - including one bribe facilitated by a development consultant in the Valley, the Justice Department announced Tuesday.
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