Federal prosecutors have added five new defendants, including a former deputy mayor of LA and the head of a major Chinese real estate development company, to the vast mayoral corruption case which centers on former city councilor José Huizar.

The new defendants face charges of bribery, wire fraud and soliciting campaign donations from foreign nationals.

They are:

  • Raymond Chan, former head of the LA construction and safety department and deputy mayor for economic development under Mayor Eric Garcetti.
  • Wei Huang, billionaire chairman of Chinese development firm Shen Zhen New World I, who planned to build a 77-story skyscraper on the site of the LA Grand Hotel in downtown LA
  • Dae Yong Lee (aka “David Lee”), a developer with plans for a mixed-use building at 940 Hill Street downtown.

Lee and Huang’s companies are also named in the indictment.
In a press release, US attorney Nick Hanna said Huizar, Chan and others were operating the “CD-14 business”, turning the city council seat “into a lucrative criminal enterprise.” The old Huizar neighborhood included downtown Los Angeles.

“Powerful developers, operating through well-connected lobbyists, have enthusiastically participated in programs to get preferential treatment for their downtown projects,” Hanna said. “This detailed indictment, which lays bare these agreements behind the scenes, should spark serious discussion about whether significant reforms are warranted in the city of Los Angeles government.”

Among the gifts Huang reportedly provided to Huizar, with Chan acting as facilitator, were 19 all-expense-paid trips to Las Vegas between 2013-17, and $ 600,000 as collateral to allow Huizar to secure a loan to settle a lawsuit for sexual harassment by a former employee of his city council office. Huizar then stopped making payments on the loan and most of the collateral was used to pay off the balance.

Huizar was arrested in June. He pleaded not guilty in August and is expected to stand trial next year on 34 counts, including racketeering and money laundering. The FBI and the US Attorney’s Office have described the alleged operation through court documents, which detail a scheme by Huizar and his accomplices to extract money from developers and companies in exchange for official favors such as greasing. real estate projects skates in the powerful city council Committee for Planning and Land Use Management, chaired by Huizar.

So far, five men have pleaded guilty to charges related to the case, including former city councilor Mitch Englander. In October, a subsidiary of Chinese mega-developer Shenzhen Hazens agreed to pay over $ 1 million to avoid prosecution for gifts and $ 100,000 in illegal contributions, he channeled Huizar’s wife’s failed campaign to succeed her on city council.

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