LOS ANGELES - The brother of former Los Angeles City Councilman José Huizar — who is facing federal racketeering charges in an alleged corruption scheme — admitted in a plea agreement filed Wednesday that he lied about accepting cash from José Huizar, then writing checks back to him or arranging to pay his expenses.
Salvador Huzar, 57, of Boyle Heights agreed to plead guilty to one felony count of making false statement to federal investigators. Salvador Huizar admitted to lying to investigators on multiple occasions, including as recently as two weeks ago, during an interview with Federal Bureau of Investigation agents and federal prosecutors.
According to the plea agreement, "Between at least Nov. 26, 2013 and Aug. 22, 2018, upon José Huizar's request, (Salvador Huizar) accepted envelopes of cash from José Huizar on at least 20 occasions." In exchange, the plea said, Salvador Huizar would either write checks back to his brother or arrange for electronic payments from his own bank account either to José Huizar, or to pay his brother's expenses.
Even though Salvador Huizar asked his brother on multiple occasions about the cash, José Huizar said "it was better that (Salvador Huizar) did not know the source of the cash," according to the plea agreement.
Salvador Huizar admitted he lied to FBI agents on Nov. 17, 2018, when he said his brother never asked him to write any checks, except on two occasions and for which he was not paid back. Salvador Huizar also admitted he lied to the FBI and federal prosecutors in January 2020 – saying the cash from his brother was to pay off a debt or that he received cash later, after the check was written. Salvador Huizar reiterated those claims again two weeks ago, before he recanted his statement.
Salvador Huizar has agreed to cooperate with the investigation and has agreed to testify at the next two trials in this case. He is expected to formally enter his guilty plea before a federal judge in the coming weeks. Salvidor Huizar faces a maximum of five years in federal prison.
José Huizar was arrested back on June 23, 2020 at his Boyle Heights home for allegedly conspiring to accept roughly $1.5 million in bribes from developers trying to curry his favor.
José Huizar was charged with conspiring to violate the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act and the criminal complaint alleges that he and his associates violated a series of laws, including bribery, honest services fraud, extortion and money laundering.
The RICO charge carries a sentence of up to 20 years in federal prison.
José Huizar and former Los Angeles Deputy Mayor Raymond Chan are scheduled to go to trial on Feb. 21.
Previously in the racketeering case, real estate developer Dae Yong Lee and one of his companies were convicted in June of federal criminal charges for providing $500,000 in cash to the ex-councilman and his special assistant in exchange for their help in resolving a labor organization's appeal of their downtown Los Angeles development project and obstructing justice by falsifying financial documents.
The next scheduled trial in the case is set to begin Oct. 25. Shen Zhen New World I LLC, an entity owned by real estate developer Wei Huang, is charged with bribing Huizar related to another downtown Los Angeles development project.
José Huizar has represented Los Angeles' City Council District 14 (CD-14), which includes downtown Los Angeles and its surrounding communities, from 2005 up until his arrest in June 2020.