A federal grand jury returned a 34-count indictment against suspended Los Angeles City Councilmember José Huízar on Thursday for his alleged involvement in a City Hall “pay-to-play” scheme.
The central figure in a five-year corruption probe, Huízar is accused of accepting $1.5 million in bribes from real estate developers in exchange for support of downtown building projects.
He could face up to 30 years in federal prison if found guilty of all charges.
The indictment includes allegations made in June’s criminal complaint against the councilmember, which charged him with one count of conspiracy to violate the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act. Specifically, it alleges 402 overt acts that he and his co-conspirators committed to further their criminal enterprise, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
In addition to the RICO charge, Thursday’s indictment includes:
- 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
- One count of tax evasion
The 51-year-old has represented Los Angeles Council District 14 (CD-14), which includes Boyle Heights and other communities, since 2005. Among multiple corruption allegations, the indictment alleges the councilmember illegally accepted over $800,000 in benefits from a Chinese billionaire who runs a multinational development firm and owns a hotel in the CD-14.
In total, Huízar allegedly agreed to accept at least $1.5 million in illicit financial benefits. He is free on a $100,000 bond following his arrest last month. His arraignment, originally set for July 20, is currently set for Aug. 3 via videoconference.
He is the fifth person to be charged in this ongoing corruption investigation being conducted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the FBI. The other four defendants have all pleaded guilty.