Los Angeles Developer gets 6 years in Prison for Political Bribery

Los Angeles Developer gets 6 years in Prison for Political Bribery

21 July 2023 ( The Hill )

A Southern California real estate developer was sentenced to six years in prison Friday for sending a $500,000 bribe to a Los Angeles city councilman, the Department of Justice announced.

David Lee was found guilty of wire fraud and bribery in June 2022.

He was also personally ordered to pay a $750,000 fine for this conduct and his company was levied a $1.5 million fine, the largest allowed. 

Lee planned a major commercial and residential development in downtown Los Angeles, but appealed to then-Councilman José Huizar when the project was halted in the city approval process, the DOJ said.

Huizar was the local councilman for the project, and the head of the city’s planning board.

The councilman asked for a cash bribe, which Lee delivered in parts, including in a paper bag, prosecutors claimed in the sentencing memorandum.

“Despite enjoying a life of privilege and abundance, Lee wanted more,” the memo said. “But instead of earning it, he wanted a guaranteed shortcut to circumvent the city process and silence community opponents threatening to thwart his attempts to expand his substantial real estate empire.”

Huizar and two of his associates pleaded guilty to charges related to the bribery. The former councilman also pleaded guilty to tax evasion and organized crime charges in January.

He has agreed to serve at least nine years in prison — but has not yet been sentenced.