In an unprecedented $1 million federal bribery probe, a former top assistant to Los Angeles City Councilman Jose Huizar offered to plead guilty to racketeering, says a report.
George Esparza, 33, is Huizar ‘s nearest associate among the four involved in the case pled guilty.
He would confess to trying to sell power to real estate investors in return for funds, lavish travel and political contributions in his plea deal between 2013 and 2018. One included the billionaire head of a major Chinese real estate company who, according to the Los Angeles Times, reportedly invested more than $1 million in bribes for a planned 77-story skyscraper in downtown Los Angeles.
Esparza quit his town position in 2018 and is now head of personnel for Wendy Carrillo, a California Assemblywoman.
According to a release from the U.S. attorney’s office, Esparza told prosecutors he “personally accepted at least approximately $32,000 in gambling chips, plus flights on private jets and commercial airlines, stays at luxurious hotels, expensive meals and alcohol, spa services, event tickets, and escort services.”
Investigators claimed the operation was orchestrated by Huizar, who was not identified in legal records and who was not prosecuted or convicted.
Esparza also claimed he helped arrange a $570,000 loan for Huizar that, according to The Times, the councilman used to resolve a charge of sexual assault brought against him during his 2014 reelection campaign.
Huizar ‘s counsel hasn’t spoken to the Times.
Huizar presided over the influential Planning and Land Use Management Committee of the City Council until 2018, when he was relieved of that and other duties following FBI searches on his home and offices.
He is under scrutiny and has been called for by several of his peers to withdraw. Also, a developer of real estate, a campaign activist and former councilman Mitchell Englander offered to plead guilty in the case.
Esparza and Carillo were also reprimanded for offensive conduct by Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon in February, including an unwelcome assembly women embrace and kiss and Esparza lewd remarks. Esparza must plead guilty to one racketeering count, which has a potential 20-year term. He has promised to meet with the enquiry.