HomePoliticsFormer L.A Deputy Mayor found guilty in sprawling corruption case

Former L.A Deputy Mayor found guilty in sprawling corruption case

Former Los Angeles Deputy Mayor Raymond Chan was found guilty on Wednesday for a dozen charges including federal racketeering conspiracy, two types of bribery, and lying to the FBI. Chan’s conviction is part of a widespread investigation into City Hall corruption in L.A.

According to LAist, Chan is convicted for his activities from 2013 to 2018, when he was the head of the Building and Safety Department and later as the deputy mayor for economic development under former Mayor Eric Garcetti.

Prosecutors claimed that Chan was a central figure in the scheme devised by L.A City Councilmember Jose Huizar, reported KTLA5, who was recently sentenced to 13 years in prison on racketeering and tax evasion charges.

According to prosecutors, Huizar was chair of the Planning and Land Use Management Committee that approved major projects throughout the city. Chan accepted tens of thousands of dollars in bribe money and organized illicit payoffs from property developers to Huizar, ultimately corrupting the city’s approval process for real estate projects.

Los Angeles Magazine reported that court documents showed the payoffs came in “red envelopes” from Chinese overseas developers. Chan made under the table deals for monetary bribes to approve a Chinese owned luxury hotel in downtown L.A.

CBS News reported that the Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian Faerstein said during his opening statement that Chan had three goals: “Get money, keep power, and avoid the feds.”

However, Chan’s attorneys present a differing case. According to Fox 11, one of Chan’s attorneys, John Hanuz, told jurors that Chan helped the city by making it appealing to foreign investors.

“It was his mission to bring economic development to Los Angeles,” the defense attorney said. “Unfortunately, Ray Chan thought everyone shared his vision.”

The LA Times reported that Hausz said his client will be filing an appeal, arguing that Chan was not part of the criminal enterprise led by Huizar. “This case was, and always has been, about Jose Huizar,” Hanusz said.

However, prosecutors claim that Chan was a crucial intermediary in many of Huizar’s criminal activities. According to the LA Times, Chan helped Huizar secretly settle a sexual harassment lawsuit using $600,000 in collateral from the owner of the Chinese development company Shen Zhen New World I, which allowed Huizar to secure a bank loan to pay off his accuser. Later, Huizar strongly supported Shen Zhen’s building project.

The LA Times also reported that Chan was found guilty of securing bribes to help Huizar’s wife, Richelle Huizar, run for City Council. 

Chan is the final defendant to be charged in this sprawling City Hall corruption investigation. According to Fox 11, a developer, a former lobbyist, a land-use consultant, a Chinese-based real estate company and Huizar’s older brother, Salvador Huizar, have either pleaded guilty or been convicted by a jury.

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