NATIONAL NEWS

Former Los Angeles Deputy Mayor Raymond Chan convicted in sprawling bribery case

Mar 27, 2024, 12:41 PM | Updated: 1:26 pm

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Former Los Angeles Deputy Mayor Raymond Chan was convicted Wednesday of racketeering, bribery, fraud and giving false statements to investigators in a sprawling pay-to-play corruption scandal at City Hall.

The federal jury reached the guilty verdict less than 24 hours after lawyers finished closing arguments, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Sentencing was set for June 10. Chan’s attorney, John Hanusz, told the judge that they will appeal.

“Chan used his leadership position in City Hall to favor corrupt individuals and companies willing to play dirty,” U.S. Attorney Martin Estrada said in a statement. “With today’s verdict, we send a strong message that the public will not stand for corruption and that pay-to-play politics has no place in our community.”

This was Chan’s second trial in the bribery case involving downtown Los Angeles real estate development projects. The first fell apart after his lawyer, Harland Braun, was hospitalized and unable to return to work for months. A judge declared a mistrial last April.

In the latest trial, Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian R. Faerstein told jurors that Chan and former City Councilmember Jose Huizar used the downtown real estate boom of the prior decade to enrich themselves and their allies, the Times reported.

Faerstein described Chan, 67, as a crucial intermediary between Chinese developers looking to build high-rises and Huizar, who headed the powerful committee that shepherded such projects.

In opening arguments March 12, Faerstein said Chan “got bribes for himself, and he got bribes for other public officials.”

Chan is the last defendant charged in the City Hall corruption investigation to go on trial. Huizar, who pleaded guilty to racketeering and tax evasion charges, was sentenced in January to 13 years in prison. More than a half-dozen others have been convicted or pleaded guilty to federal charges, including Huizar’s brother, Salvador Huizar.

“This case was, and always has been, about Jose Huizar,” Hanusz said.

Hanusz agreed that Huizar and the others were corrupt. But he said while Huizar accepted flights to Las Vegas, casino chips and lavish hotel stays, Chan received none of those things.

Chan, while working with developers, was motivated not by greed but by a desire to make Los Angeles more business-friendly, Hanusz said.

Chan was the top executive at the Department of Building and Safety until 2016, when he became the deputy mayor in charge of economic development under Mayor Eric Garcetti, who was not implicated in the scandal. Chan held that job for slightly more than a year, then left city government to become a private-sector consultant, representing real estate developers.

Prosecutors have accused Chan of secretly setting up a consulting firm while working for the city and overseeing government actions for which he was paid by a developer after he left his city employment, the Times said.

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