Lobbyist to Plead Guilty in City Hall Bribery Scheme in Which Jose Huizar Supported Developer in Exchange for PAC Donations

           Federal prosecutors today filed criminal charges against Roland Goldman, a.k.a. “Morrie,” 57, of Porter Ranch, a longtime Los Angeles City Hall lobbyist and close associate of City Councilman Jose Huizar with participating in a bribery scheme in which he brokered deals where a developer client agreed to make $50,000 in political donations in exchange for Huizar’s official actions for the developer’s benefit.The feds charged Goldman with one count of conspiring to commit bribery and honest services mail fraud.

           The court documents showed that, Goldman. acted as a lobbyist for “Company M,” which had a pending development project in the city’s Arts District. Goldman was one of several people who established two political action committees, one of which purportedly supported a variety of causes, but actually was created to primarily benefit the City Council campaign of Huizar’s relative, known in court papers as “Relative A-1.” If elected, Relative A-1 would help Huizar and his associates “maintain a political stronghold in the city,” according to court documents.

            In his plea agreement, Goldman admits that in September 2018 he agreed with Huizar and a Company M executive that the developer would contribute $50,000 to a PAC established to support Relative A-1’s political campaign. In exchange, Huizar would vote against a union appeal of Company M’s project in the Planning and Land Use Management Committee, which he chaired at the time.

            Court documents also outline how Goldman secured commitments from Company M to contribute to PACs at Huizar’s request prior to September 2018.  Between November 2016 and March 2017, Company M contributed a total of $50,000 to a PAC used to benefit Huizar’s political causes. In June 2018, Goldman secured a $25,000 contribution to the PAC designed to elect Relative A-1, as well as a commitment for an additional $25,000 contribution. Company M’s project ultimately received significant benefits in the city approval process. For example, the City Council’s approval of Company M’s request to reduce the project’s availability of low-income housing – despite its proximity to Skid Row – netted the company approximately $14 million in savings, court papers state.

Out of the $150,000 in donations agreed to by the developer, $75,000 was actually paid, with the final payments being derailed by an FBI search of Huizar’s home and offices in November 2018. 

            Goldman is now the sixth defendant to be charged as a result of Operation “Casino Loyale,” an FBI investigation into corruption at Los Angeles City Hall. Four defendants, including former Los Angeles City Councilman Mitchell Englander, have pleaded guilty and await sentencing.

On August 3, Huizar pleaded not guilty to charges in a 34-count racketeering indictment that alleges he led a criminal enterprise designed to enrich himself and his associates, give favorable treatment to developers involved in the payment of bribes, and elect his relative to preserve the enterprise’s power when his term expired at the end of this year. Huizar’s trial is scheduled for June 22, 2021.

 
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Los Angeles City Councilman Jose Huizar Charged in 34-Count Indictment A… A federal grand jury today returned a 34-count indictment against Jose Huizar, an elected member of the Los Ange…

            Goldman has agreed to surrender in this case and make his first court appearance on September 23. Once he pleads guilty to the conspiracy count, Goldman will face a statutory maximum penalty of five years in federal prison.

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