Federal Prosecutors Launch Second Attempt to Convict Former Los Angeles Deputy Mayor Raymond Chan on Corruption Charges

Federal Prosecutors Launch Second Attempt to Convict Former Los Angeles Deputy Mayor Raymond Chan on Corruption Charges

Federal prosecutors have initiated their second trial against former Los Angeles Deputy Mayor Raymond Chan on corruption charges, presenting him as a central figure in an extensive “pay-to-play” scheme. Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian R. Faerstein, in his opening arguments, portrayed Chan and former City Councilmember Jose Huizar as individuals who capitalized on the downtown real estate boom to enrich themselves and their associates.

Faerstein asserted that Chan played a crucial role as an intermediary between Chinese developers seeking to construct high-rises in downtown Los Angeles and Huizar, who chaired the influential committee responsible for approving such projects. According to Faerstein, Chan not only accepted bribes for himself but also facilitated bribes for other public officials.

Chan’s initial trial on charges of racketeering, bribery, honest services fraud, and lying to federal investigators was declared a mistrial in April due to his lawyer’s extended absence. Huizar, who pleaded guilty to racketeering and tax evasion charges, has already been sentenced to 13 years in prison. George Esparza, Huizar’s former aide, has also pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy and is scheduled to testify against Chan. Real estate consultant George Chiang, who worked with Chan and pleaded guilty to racketeering, is expected to provide testimony as well.

Chan’s new attorney, John Hanusz, acknowledged the deep corruption of Huizar and others involved, describing their crimes as “cinematic in scope.” However, Hanusz argued that Chan did not receive any personal benefits such as flights to Las Vegas, casino chips, or luxurious hotel stays. Hanusz contended that Chan’s motivation stemmed from a desire to make Los Angeles more business-friendly while working with developers, rather than personal greed.

Hanusz cautioned the jury about the credibility of some government witnesses, labeling them as liars who committed crimes and now seek leniency through their testimony. The case against Chan covers the period from 2013 to 2018, during which Huizar chaired the council’s Planning and Land Use Management Committee, granting him the authority to determine when real estate projects received public hearings and council votes.

Chan served as the top executive at the Department of Building and Safety until 2016, after which he became the deputy mayor responsible for economic development under Mayor Eric Garcetti. After a little over a year in that position, Chan left city government to work as a private-sector consultant representing real estate developers.

Prosecutors allege that Chan secretly established a consulting firm while working for the city and received payments from a developer after leaving his city employment. They also claim that Chan assisted Huizar in obtaining a bribe from a Chinese developer who later sought to construct a 77-story skyscraper in Huizar’s district. Huizar admitted that the developer helped him secure a $600,000 loan, which he used to secretly settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by a former staffer just before his reelection campaign.

Prosecutors further assert that Chan aided Huizar in obtaining the funds after Huizar thwarted a proposed merger between the Department of City Planning and the Department of Building and Safety, which would have jeopardized Chan’s position as general manager at Building and Safety.

Shen Zhen New World I, the company behind the proposed 77-story tower, was convicted of providing Huizar with various bribes, including trips to Las Vegas. The company was fined $4 million, and its owner, Wei Huang, is now a fugitive, according to the Department of Justice.

CrimeDoor
Author: CrimeDoor

1 Response

  1. This is absolutely outrageous! It is deeply disheartening to see yet another public official being charged with corruption. Raymond Chan, who was supposed to serve the people of Los Angeles with integrity and dedication, has instead been implicated in a despicable “pay-to-play” scheme.

    It is a grave betrayal of the public’s trust when those in positions of power and authority abuse their positions for personal gain. Corruption not only undermines the very foundation of our democracy but also perpetuates a culture of dishonesty

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