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Originally published on August 3, 2020
Suspended Los Angeles City Councilman José Huízar has entered a plea of “not guilty” in a wide-ranging City Hall corruption case. He appeared by teleconference before U.S. magistrate judge Alicia Rosenberg. A trial date will be set at a hearing later this week.
Huízar is facing dozens of charges related to corrupt dealings at City Hall. He wore a dark suit and white shirt and glasses. He appeared to be wearing a white N95 medical-grade mask.
Huízar answered “yes” or “yes, your honor” to questions like — do you understand the charges? In the courtroom, the judge and staff all remained behind plexiglass. Attorneys appeared via videoconference, all precautions in place due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Huízar was arrested June 23 on a racketeering charge. Federal prosecutors say he ran a “criminal enterprise” from his council seat, squeezing money out of development deals for downtown skyscrapers and big hotels.
A grand jury indictment released last week claims that Huízar accepted at least $1.5 million to usher development deals through the city’s powerful Planning and Land Use Management Committee.
There have been four guilty pleas in this case so far, including former councilman Mitch Englander, who faces up to five years in prison.
— LIBBY DENKMANN
This report is reprinted with permission from Southern California Public Radio. © 2020 Southern California Public Radio. All rights reserved.