Salvador Huizar’s Plea Reveals How City Council Corruption Works

Salvador Huizar has been accused by Federal prosecutors of money laundering for his brother, who was a former City Councilman, Jose Huizar, more than 20 times between November 2013 to August 2018 and of lying to federal investigators several times. The former Councilman was indicted since on federal racketeering allegations which include fraud, bribery, and extortion. This was through his involvement in a pay-to-play scheme in which he agreed to take $1.5 million worth of bribes from real estate developers in exchange for his favorable votes.

It is how powerful and influential the Los Angeles City Council is. The council is not only empowered to approve municipal ordinances (subject to mayor's approval or veto), but it can also can influence elections, regulate and impose taxes on city residents, and even decide on traffic rules. Their most significant role, and often the focus of ongoing scandals throughout the city's history, is overseeing and approving public improvements as well as approving city contracts. Huizar made use of this during his time as chairman of the Planning and Land Use Management Commission to shake down real estate developers who sought access to the insider information regarding city planning.

The Los Angeles Times:

The older brother of Jose Huizar admitted to lying to FBI agents about receiving envelopes of cash from Huizar and will cooperate with the federal government’s sprawling corruption investigation into the former Los Angeles city councilman.

On multiple occasions, Huizar gave his older brother, Salvador, envelopes of cash and asked him to write a check for the exact amount out of his own bank account, federal investigators said.

When Salvador Huizar asked about the money, Jose Huizar said it was better that he “did not know the source of the cash,” according to a plea agreement filed Wednesday by the councilman’s brother.

Salvador Huizar, 57, agreed to plead guilty to one felony count of making false statements to federal investigators, admitting to repeatedly lying about the cash, including while under oath before a federal grand jury and as recently as two weeks ago when he was interviewed again by FBI agents.

Salvador Huizar would take cash from his brother, and then make a payment to Councilman Huizar or arrange for the payment of the expenses of his brother. This is a method of money laundering so easy that even an infant could be involved and would have attracted the same amount of attention as it did. If it had not been for Councilman Huizar's extravagant lifestyle, including extravagant trips to Las Vegas, he may be a bit more elusive and not on the FBI's watch list.

The corruption the Huizars were involved in hasn’t gone away, despite the removal of Councilman Huizar from office.

The person who demanded Huizar's suspension was then-Council president Nury Martinez. Who was appointed Huizar's District 14 Council seat? It was Kevin DeLeon. Martinez and DeLeon, together with Councilman Gil Cedillo are in the middle of the LatinX Scandal, involving racism and redistricting. Martinez resigned as the council's president on Monday and she resigned from her Council District 6 seat on Wednesday. The interim Council President Mitch O'Farrell has attempted to contact DeLeon, who was MIA in the days before the tense Wednesday City Council Meeting began, to pressure him to resign. O'Farrell had a long talk with Cedillo regarding his resignation, however at the moment Cedillo is in a good place. Cedillo was primaried in June by the openly Democrat Socialist Eunisses Hernandez and only has two months left on his term. Cedillo isn't risking anything.

DeLeon is a quickly moving California politician who manages to remain in the shadows of the corruption of the council but avoids being caught in an actual case of indictment. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

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