Jose Huizar was just an “evangelist for robust development”: attorney

Former LA city councilman indicted for taking bribes from developers says in a court filing that the payments were honest favors; wants federal charges tossed

Los Angeles /
Sep.September 09, 2021 11:01 AM
Jose Huizar (Getty)
Jose Huizar (Getty)

Jose Huizar, the former powerful Los Angeles city councilman accused of accepting cash and gifts from developers, has issued his first full response to the federal charges against him.

Huizar wants a judge to toss the bribery case, claiming he acted only as an “evangelist for robust development.” The statement was part of a filing Huizar made through his attorney in U.S. District Court, City News Service reported, according to the Los Angeles Daily News.

Huizar does not dispute he accepted payments from developers, but claims they were entirely legal.

According to the filing, Huizar says federal prosecutors conflated honest favors and First Amendment-protected contributions with bribes, and have reimagined Huizar’s tenure at the City Council “as one permeated by corruption.” He claims it was not.

Developers “supported [Huizar] because he supported them,” according to Huizar’s filing, the report noted. It added that money Huizar raised from developers who had projects with the city “helped to fund not only homelessness initiatives, but the campaigns of some of the most prominent local, state, and national politicians.”

Huizar also claims the federal corruption statutes brought against him and other defendants are “overbroad” and exceed the U.S. Supreme Court’s limit on those charges, and violate the statute of limitations, according to the report.

In July 2020, a federal grand jury indicted Huizar on charges he accepted $1.5 million in bribes and other gifts from developers and others in exchange for favors.

Huizar’s district covered Downtown L.A. and he was head of the Council’s Planning and Land Use Committee. That position gave him immense decision-making power over projects big and small in the neighborhood and across the city.
While some of his former associates and underlings — and one former councilman — have entered plea deals with federal prosecutors, Huizar has maintained his innocence. A trial was set to begin this summer, but was pushed back to next May.

Federal prosecutors also charged development firm Shenzhen New World Group and an executive of developer Carmel Partners with bribing the former councilman. Carmel agreed to pay a $1.2 million fine to avoid prosecution, and fired the executive. Several other lower-level city officials were also charged.

[LADN] — Dennis Lynch 





    Related Articles

    arrow_forward_ios
    444 South Flower Street (Getty, Joe Collver/CC BY-SA 3.0/via Wikimedia Commons)
    Foreclosure auction for 444 South Flower Street delayed
    Foreclosure auction for 444 South Flower Street delayed
    Councilman Jose Huizar (Charlie Kaijo/CC BY 2.0/via Wikimedia Commons, Getty)
    Developer found guilty in LA City Hall bribery scheme
    Developer found guilty in LA City Hall bribery scheme
    Northland's Matthew Gottesdiener and Greenland Holdings’ Zhang Yuliang with the THEA at Metropolis at 1000 W. 8th Street in Los Angeles (TheaDTLA, LinkedIn, Getty)
    Greenland sells Metropolis apartment tower for $500M
    Greenland sells Metropolis apartment tower for $500M
    Skanska USA's Richard Kennedy along with renderings of 1727-1829 E. Sacramento Street (Skanska)
    Purple office project proposed in DTLA’s Arts District
    Purple office project proposed in DTLA’s Arts District
    Oceanwide's new CEO Liu Guosheng and former CEO Han Xiaosheng with Oceanwide Plaza (Oceanwide)
    China Oceanwide CEO steps down, CFO takes helm
    China Oceanwide CEO steps down, CFO takes helm
    Virgin Hyperloop Interim CEO/CFO and Board Member Raja P. Narayanan and ROW DTLA (ROW DTLA, LinkedIn/rajanarayanan)
    Virgin Hyperloop moves HQ to Atlas Capital’s Row DTLA
    Virgin Hyperloop moves HQ to Atlas Capital’s Row DTLA
    Bill Cooper, Matthew Berkley, and clock tower for Eastern Columbia Lofts (Bill Cooper, Matthew Berkley, Andrew Asch of The Real Deal)
    Reform of historic property taxes could impact brokers
    Reform of historic property taxes could impact brokers
    National Real Estate Advisors ceo Jeffrey Kanne with renderings of the residential tower The Bloc at 700 S. Flower St in Los Angeles (Shimahara, National Real Estate Advisors)
    The Bloc could add 53-story tower to DTLA skyline
    The Bloc could add 53-story tower to DTLA skyline
    arrow_forward_ios

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

    Loading...