Ex-LA Councilman Huizar Corruption Trial Delayed Until 2023

Ex-LA Councilman Huizar Corruption Trial Delayed Until 2023
Los Angeles City Councilman Jose Huizar, who was arrested on June 23, 2020, following a years-long corruption probe, is shown in a file photo. (Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)
City News Service

LOS ANGELES—A judge has granted a delay until next year in the trial of former L.A. Councilman José Huizar on federal bribery and racketeering charges, court papers obtained on April 29 show.

U.S. District Judge John F. Walter had initially scheduled a trial in October for Huizar and his co-defendant, former Deputy Mayor Raymond Chan, but this week allowed a four-month continuance due to the need for more preparation time.

The trial is now set to begin on Feb. 21.

The judge previously broke up the complex six-defendant indictment into three separate Los Angeles federal criminal trials after finding that the size of the case against Huizar alone would likely overshadow evidence against co-defendants.

Huizar, the central figure in a six-year probe of suspected corruption in Los Angeles’s City Hall politics, is accused of receiving $1.5 million in cash and benefits as part of a pay-to-play scheme in which developers were shaken down for cash and campaign donations in exchange for help getting downtown real estate projects through the city’s approval process.

A trial is expected on June 14 for Dae Yong Lee, a developer with multiple properties in Los Angeles, and one of his companies, 940 Hill. Lee and the company face federal bribery, fraud, and obstruction charges allegedly linked to Huizar.

An Oct. 18 trial date is now scheduled for Shen Zhen New World, a company owned by a fugitive Chinese billionaire developer who is also a defendant. The company, which acquired the L.A. Grand Hotel Downtown in 2011, planned to redevelop it into a 77-story tower, allegedly in a quid pro quo arrangement with the ex-councilman. The developer, Wei Huang, is believed to be in China and has never appeared for a court date in the case.

Huizar and Chan, who was general manager of the Department of Building and Safety before becoming the city’s deputy mayor of economic development, face racketeering conspiracy, bribery, honest services fraud, and other counts.

Huizar’s lawyers deny the allegations against their client, claiming the former councilman was merely “an evangelist for robust development” in downtown and Boyle Heights, which he represented from 2005 to 2020.