January 29, 2024 3 min read


Ex-LA Councilmember Sentenced to 13 Years for Bribery, Tax Evasion

José Luis Huizar used his political influence to push different real estate projects and in exchange accepted bribes, lavish trips to casinos and luxury hotels

A massive investigation by the FBI in collaboration with IRS Criminal Investigation in Los Angeles resulted in the sentencing of a former City Councilmember. José Luis Huizar, 55, of Boyle Heights, held the role of Los Angeles City Councilmember between 2005 and 2020. In mid-2020, he was indicted on charges related to bribery and tax evasion. Last year in January, Huizar pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to violate the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act along with one count of tax evasion.

On Friday last week, the former politician was sentenced to 13 years in prison by US District Judge John F. Walter. Besides the federal prison sentence, Huizar was also ordered to pay $38,792 in restitution to the IRS along with $443,905 in restitution to the City of Los Angeles. According to a statement released by the US Attorney’s Office, Central District of California, Huizar was given a period to surrender to the authorities by April 30, 2024.

Prosecutors said that the years-long investigation uncovered the former politician engaged in criminal conspiracy activities and was behind a “pay-to-play scheme” which had three ultimate goals that included maintaining his strong political position, enjoying financial benefits in the form of bribes and at the same time, ensuring his actions remain unnoticed by law enforcement.

Additionally, prosecutors found out that Huizar benefitted from receiving cash bribes, political contributions and also accepted lavish stays at luxury hotels and casinos, flights on private jets and even prostitution services. In exchange for those benefits, the politician leveraged his influence and role as a public official to provide “favorable treatment towards the projects of the paying real estate developers.”

No One Is Above the Law

Back in 2013, the former City Councilmember faced a lawsuit alleging sexual harassment. This is when Huizar, according to prosecutors, “schemed to surreptitiously route $600,000 in the form of collateral” from Wei Huang, a billionaire real estate developer. Funneling the money through a shell company, Huizar was able to use it to settle the aforementioned lawsuit.

On another occasion, the former politician accepted some $1 million in different benefits from Huang. In exchange, Huizar agreed to help one of the real estate developer’s projects. This project planned to redevelop Huang’s hotel into the tallest building in downtown Los Angeles west of the Mississippi.

Today’s sentence shows that even a powerful elected official like Huizar will be held accountable for engaging in criminal misconduct.

United States Attorney Martin Estrada

United States Attorney Martin Estrada spoke about the recent sentencing explaining: “No one is above the law.” He said the sentencing confirms that even powerful politicians who engage in unlawful activities can be brought to justice. Finally, Estrada pointed out that instead of serving the interest of the public, Huizar engaged in illegal activities, including bribery and running a long-term pay-to-play scheme.


Jerome is a welcome new addition to the Gambling News team, bringing years of journalistic experience within the iGaming sector. His interest in the industry begun after he graduated from college where he played in regular local poker tournaments which eventually lead to exposure towards the growing popularity of online poker and casino rooms. Jerome now puts all the knowledge he's accrued to fuel his passion for journalism, providing our team with the latest scoops online.

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