NBC Los Angeles reports that Democrat Jose Huizar has pled guilty to federal corruption charges.
Huizar is a former member of the Los Angeles, California, city council.
NBC News reports:
Prosecutors alleged that from 2013 to 2017, Huizar masterminded a $1.5 million pay-to-play scheme tied to the approval of downtown high-rise developments while he chaired the city’s powerful Planning and Land Use Management Committee.
In exchange, Huizar, according to prosecutors, received everything from cash to prostitution services to political contributions and even to money to pay to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit.
The prosecution had charged Huizar with federal racketeering, conspiracy, and bribery charges. And, the trial was just getting ready to take place next month.
The prosecution and Huizar, however, have now reached a plea agreement.
Huizar, in a Los Angeles courtroom on Friday, pled guilty to racketeering, conspiracy, and tax evasion charges. As part of the deal, he has also agreed to pay restitution, although the amount has yet to be determined.
In exchange for Huizar's guilty plea, the prosecution agreed to seek a prison sentence of no more than 13 years. Huizar, on the other hand, is not allowed to ask for a prison term of fewer than nine years.
Without the plea deal, it appears that Huizar would have faced a sentence of up to 26 years in prison. But, with the plea deal, it is looking as though he'll be receiving somewhere between nine and 13 years of prison time.
Sentencing in the case will take place on April 3.
Huizar has released a statement apologizing for his actions. He said:
I want to apologize to my family, constituents, and to the City of Los Angeles. My actions were not acceptable, and I will accept the consequences for my actions. It is time for healing. My family needs some healing, and I hope that my acceptance of responsibility will allow the city to heal from the harm that my actions have caused.
This is all part of a City Hall corruption scandal that involves many more actors than just Huizar.
CBS News reports:
Two trials arising out of a 34-count indictment against Huizar and his associates have ended in convictions. Real estate development company Shen Zhen New World I LLC was found guilty last month of paying Huizar $1 million in bribes to obtain city approval to build a 77-story skyscraper.
In Huizar's particular case, there is a co-defendant - former Deputy Mayor Raymond Chan. It remains unclear as to whether Chan will also enter a plea deal.