Imprisoned former Los Angeles Councilman Mitchell Englander now faces sanctions from the city’s ethics commission for misusing his office in accepting cash and other gifts from real estate developers.
The Los Angeles City Ethics Commission accused Englander of accepting and then failing to report $15,000 in cash and other gifts that exceeded legal limits, according to the L.A. Daily News.
The commission on Jan. 10 said the actions––for which Englander pleaded guilty in 2020 in a widespread political corruption case––also amount to violations of the city’s ethics law.
The San Fernando Valley councilman pleaded guilty to scheming to falsify material facts, a felony. In his plea deal, he copped to lying to federal authorities about his dealings with a real estate developer who plied him with secret cash payments and other gifts.
In January last year, a federal judge sentenced Englander to 14 months in prison, along with a $15,000 fine. From June through October, he served time in a federal penitentiary in Tucson, Arizona. He is now finish\ing his sentence at a reentry facility in Long Beach, with an expected release date of May 28.
In all, the councilman received gifts valued at more than $30,000 in cash, female escort services, hotel rooms, wine and meals from the so-far unidentified real estate developer.
He was the first to be imprisoned in a probe into widespread city corruption that has also resulted in felony charges against former City Councilman Jose Huizar, former Deputy Mayor Raymond Chan and others.
Prosecutors have charged 10 people and two developers in the so-called “Operation Casino Loyale,” including Huizar, its alleged mastermind.
Huizar has pleaded not guilty to 41 criminal counts involving racketeering and fraud.
The criminal trial of Huizar, Chan and downtown hotel development company Shen Zhen New World I and two others is set for May 24.
The ethics commission’s accusation against Englander lays out two counts of accepting excess gifts, one count of misusing a city position and two counts of failure to disclose the gifts. If found guilty during an upcoming hearing, he could be fined up to $5,000 per violation.
A statement from Englander’s attorney disputed the count of misusing a city position, and said the accusations are “duplicative of the federal criminal case,” the Daily News reported.
[Daily News] – Dana Bartholomew