The FBI arrested Los Angeles City Councilman Jose Huizar on Tuesday on extortion charges after a lengthy corruption investigation.
Huizar, a 51-year-old Democrat, was accused of taking bribes from developers and others with business before the City Council’s Land Use Planning and Administration Committee, which he chaired.
The investigation, dubbed “Operation Casino Royale,” began five years ago after Huizar was seen cashing out casino chips he received from a Chinese billionaire with a hotel in his district, the FBI said.
The city council stripped Huizar of his powerful presidency after the FBI raided his home in 2018.
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“This case pulled the curtain on rampant corruption at City Hall,” said Los Angeles Federal Attorney Nick Hanna.
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“Councilman Huizar violated public trust to an astonishing degree, allegedly requesting and accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes from multiple sources for many years,” he said. Using the power of his office to approve or stop major construction projects, Huizar worked through a network of other corrupt city officials, lobbyists, consultants, and developers to fill his pockets and maintain his control over Council District 14. , which turned into money creating a criminal enterprise that shaped the development landscape in Los Angeles. “
The complaint says that after being sued for sexual harassment by a woman on his staff, Huizar accepted $ 600,000 in funds from the Chinese billionaire to settle the lawsuit.
The lawsuit threatened Huizar’s 2015 re-election campaign, prosecutors said.
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In May, a former Huizar aide pleaded guilty in connection to his role in the bribery conspiracy, prosecutors said.
An email to Fox News’ Huizar lawyer was not immediately answered.