Los Angeles City Councilman Jose Huizar, 51, was arrested on June 23 at his Boyle Heights home by the FBI for allegedly conspiring to accept roughly $1.5 million in bribes from a Chinese real estate developer trying to curry his favor. Huizar faces 20 years in federal prison.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office revealed on June 23 that the FBI raided Huizar’s Boyle Heights home in 2018, during which time agents seized approximately $129,000 in cash that was stashed in his closet. Some of the money was concealed in red envelopes with Chinese characters. The charges include bribery, honest services fraud, extortion, and money laundering.
Last month, Huizar’s former special assistant, George Esparza, agreed to plead guilty to a racketeering charge. Court documents filed in connection with Esparza’s plea agreement contend that Esparza helped facilitate more than $1 million in bribes from a Chinese real estate developer who was looking to build a skyscraper in Huizar’s district, The Los Angeles Times reported. In addition to the bribes, the tycoon provided nearly $600,000 to settle a 2013 sexual harassment lawsuit against an unnamed councilmember. In 2014, Huizar settled a sexual harassment lawsuit against him by a former employee, but the terms were never disclosed.