LA real estate appraiser admits to $500K bribe

Bribe went to LA City Council member to push through development

Los Angeles /
Mar.March 19, 2020 01:06 PM
Appraiser Justin Jangwoo Kim pled guilty to coordinating $500,000 bribe
Appraiser Justin Jangwoo Kim pled guilty to coordinating $500,000 bribe

There was another bombshell Thursday into the federal probe of real estate developers bribing Los Angeles city officials — a guilty plea from a longtime L.A. real estate appraiser on one count of federal bribery relating to a developer’s half-a-million dollar payoff.

Appraiser and consultant Justin Jangwoo Kim, a 52-year-old former resident of Hancock Park, pled guilty after federal investigators uncovered evidence that Kim was the middleman of a $500,000 bribe from an unidentified developer to an unidentified member of L.A. City Council, according to a U.S. Attorney’s Office announcement.

The bribe was apparently intended so that the City Council member, who was part of the city’s Planning Land Use and Management Committee, would look favorably upon an unidentified project that was under community and legal scrutiny. Per Kim’s plea, an organized labor group was challenging the project on grounds that it ran afoul of California’s Environmental Quality Act.

The plea agreement describes Kim as a prolific local political fundraiser who was working closely not just with the City Council member, but a member of the council’s staff who Kim was helping groom to be the council member’s successor.

As part of his plea deal Kim will be part of an “ongoing public corruption investigation being conducted by federal authorities,” according to the announcement.

The appraiser’s guilty plea comes amid a wide ranging look into potential criminal activity between real estate developers and L.A. city officials, a probe that became public in November 2018 when federal officials raided the office of Jose Huizar, then the chairperson of the planning committee.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Huizar spent much of 2018 trying to get his wife, Richelle Huizar elected to his seat. She later dropped out of the race after the FBI raided their home.

The first indictment related to the probe was announced last week, when federal prosecutors made public a charge of seven counts of perjury against former City Council and planning committee member Mitchell Englander.

Englander allegedly tried to convince a real estate developer, who it turned out was cooperating with federal authorities, to lie about the developer paying for a lavish Las Vegas junket taken by Englander that included thousands of dollars for lodging, restaurants, gambling, bottle service, and escorts. Englander pled not guilty to all counts, and was arraigned last week.


Related Articles

arrow_forward_ios
Jose Huizar (Getty)
Jose Huizar was just an “evangelist for robust development”: attorney
Jose Huizar was just an “evangelist for robust development”: attorney
LA looks to add 25K units of homeless housing by 2025
LA looks to add 25K units of homeless housing by 2025
LA looks to add 25K units of homeless housing by 2025
Disgraced ex-L.A. City Councilman Mitchell Englander. (Getty)
Ex-LA city councilman enters prison in real estate corruption scandal
Ex-LA city councilman enters prison in real estate corruption scandal
Former Maywood Mayor Ramon Medina (Facebook)
Was ex-mayor of this small LA County city charged in alleged pay-to-play property scheme? Bingo!
Was ex-mayor of this small LA County city charged in alleged pay-to-play property scheme? Bingo!
Mitchell Englander (Getty)
Paying for his play: Ex-LA councilman sentenced in City Hall corruption scandal
Paying for his play: Ex-LA councilman sentenced in City Hall corruption scandal
Mitchell Englander (Getty)
No jail time for ex-LA councilmember would be “two-tier” justice system: prosecutors
No jail time for ex-LA councilmember would be “two-tier” justice system: prosecutors
Rendering of the Sea Breeze project and Los Angeles City Hall (Getty)
Developer admits to campaign donations scheme tied to Sea Breeze apartment project
Developer admits to campaign donations scheme tied to Sea Breeze apartment project
Wei Huang, Jose Huizar and a rendering of the 77-story tower at 333 S. Figueroa Street (Shenzhen New World Group, Getty)
Huizar-linked Chinese developer sued by construction contractor
Huizar-linked Chinese developer sued by construction contractor
arrow_forward_ios

The Deal's newsletters give you the latest scoops, fresh headlines, marketing data, and things to know within the industry.

Loading...