“Greed, corruption, and deception”: City’s top pols want Huizar out

The councilman has been at center of recent guilty pleas involving bribes for Downtown development projects

TRD LOS ANGELES /
May.May 29, 2020 09:00 AM
From left: Council President Nury Martinez, Councilmember Jose Huizar, and Mayor Eric Garcetti (Credit: Jerod Harris/Getty Images, and Twitter)
From left: Council President Nury Martinez, Councilmember Jose Huizar, and Mayor Eric Garcetti (Credit: Jerod Harris/Getty Images, and Twitter)

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and City Council President Nury Martinez are calling on embattled Councilmember Jose Huizar to resign following the latest guilty plea involving bribes for downtown development projects.

On Wednesday, former Huizar aide George Esparza pleaded guilty to federal corruption charges in an ongoing “pay-to-play” investigation into real estate developers and city officials.

Martinez sent a letter to Huizar asking him to step down, according to the Los Angeles Times.

“He should resign immediately,” she said, adding in a statement that the “greed, corruption and deception” described by the FBI “disgusted” her.

Huizar has not been explicitly named in any of the four recent guilty pleas or in previous FBI court documents, but is known to be the “Councilmember A” described in federal filings. The FBI has been tightlipped about the investigation, but search warrants and other documents show it’s been ongoing since at least late 2018, when agents raided Huizar’s home and office.

Federal prosecutors say that Esparza’s boss took $1 million in bribes from just one real estate developer working in his Downtown L.A. district. Huizar was the longtime chairman of the Council’s powerful Planning and Land Use Committee, which effectively decides the fate of development projects citywide.

Esparza is the fourth person in the last two months to plead guilty as a result of the FBI’s probe. Former Councilmember Mitch Englander, real estate appraiser Justin Kim, and broker George Chiang have also admitted to their roles in the schemes. [LAT]Dennis Lynch


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