Ex-LA city councilman enters prison in real estate corruption scandal
Mitchell Englander admitted to accepting cash and gifts from developers in Jose Huizar case
Former Los Angeles City Councilman Mitchell Englander began a prison sentence for his admitted role in accepting cash and other gifts from developers as part of a wider corruption scandal at City Hall.
In January, a federal judge sentenced Englander to 14 months in prison. He will serve his time in the U.S. Penitentiary in Tucson, Arizona, according to the Los Angeles Times. The high-security prison houses more than 1,200 inmates, but Englander will reside at the minimum security satellite camp with about 100 other inmates.
He has a projected release date of May 28, 2022, a couple of months short of the judge’s order. A prison spokesperson did not elaborate on the reason for a shortened term, but said sentences can be reduced for a variety of reasons including for good conduct, according to the Times.
Englander is one of several key figures who have admitted their roles in a wider pay-to-play corruption prosecutors say involved developers and city officials. Englander is the first person sent to prison in connection with the case.
The focus of that investigation has been on former Downtown L.A. Councilman Jose Huizar, who is charged with accepting $1.5 million in bribes and favors from developers and other figures in exchange for supporting their projects.
Huizar has pleaded not guilty to all 41 charges. His trial is set to begin in May 2022 after a pandemic-related postponement.
Englander last year admitted to falsifying material facts in the case.
Prosecutors said he received more than $30,000 in cash bribes and other gifts from a real estate developer during his time at City Hall. Prosecutors cited evidence they had that Englander pushed the developer to not cooperate with investigators.
Federal prosecutors have indicted several other city officials and some individuals working for developers. Those include former L.A. city deputy mayor Raymond Chan and Shenzhen New World Group chairman Wei Huang, along with the development firm itself.
[LAT] — Dennis Lynch