Former Los Angeles Councilman José Huizar Sentenced to 13 Years in Federal Prison for Racketeering Conspiracy and Tax Evasion

Former Los Angeles City Councilman José Huizar, was sentenced to 13 years in prison Friday in a high-profile corruption case. He was found guilty of accepting at least $1.5 million in cash and benefits. These were in exchange for his assistance in approving various real estate projects in downtown LA. A year ago, Huizar pleaded guilty to federal counts of conspiracy to violate the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act and tax evasion.

Racketeering Conspiracy

Huizar led the “CD-14 Enterprise,” a criminal conspiracy with a pay-to-play scheme, leading to his RICO Act conviction. The enterprise solicited and received nearly $2 million in bribes from real estate developers, including cash, casino chips, prostitution services, political contributions, flights, luxury stays, meals, concert and sporting event tickets, and more.

Key instances of bribery were:

  • Huizar requested $500,000 in cash from developer David Lee to resolve an appeal against Lee’s project.
  • He accepted over $1 million in benefits from billionaire Wei Huang, in exchange for favoring Huang’s hotel project.

Tax Evasion

The tax evasion charge against Huizar stemmed from his failure to report these illicit gains to the IRS. His evasion tactics included laundering cash through his mother and brother and omitting his financial benefits on his tax returns. Additionally, to maintain his political seat amid a sexual harassment lawsuit in 2013, Huizar used $600,000 in the form of collateral from Huang, routed through a foreign shell company, to confidentially settle the lawsuit.

Sentencing Details

United States District Judge John F. Walter sentenced Huizar to 13 years in federal prison. In addition, he ordered Huizar to pay $443,905 in restitution to the City of Los Angeles and $38,792 to the IRS. Emphasizing the destructive impact of public corruption on democracy and public trust, Judge Walter highlighted the gravity of Huizar’s actions.

Huizar’s case also involved admissions of obstructing justice, including tampering with witnesses and lying to federal prosecutors and agents.

How Would You Like Us To Contact You?(required)

Write a Reply or Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.