Former Los Angeles council member sentenced to 13 years in prison for pay-to-play corruption scandal

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — A former Los Angeles City Council member was sentenced Friday to 13 years in prison for a pay-to-play bribery scandal involving real estate development projects.

José Huizar, 55, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge John F. Walter, who also ordered him to pay $443,905 in restitution to the city and $38,792 to the IRS.

Prosecutors said in a sentencing memorandum that Huizar chose "to place his own lust for money and power above the rights and interests of the people he was elected to serve.”

Huizar pleaded guilty a year ago to racketeering conspiracy and tax evasion.

Prosecutors said that from 2013 to 2017, Huizar masterminded a $1.5 million scheme tied to the approval of downtown high-rise developments while he chaired the city’s powerful Planning and Land Use Management Committee.

Huizar was accused of giving favorable treatment in exchange for cash, casino gambling chips, luxury stays in Las Vegas, expensive meals, prostitution services, flights, concert and sports tickets, political contributions and funds to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit.

Multiple other individuals and companies were charged alongside Huizar or in related cases. Three have been sentenced, and five are awaiting sentencing. One has a pending retrial, and another is a fugitive.

Huizar must surrender to federal authorities by April 30.

His scheme was among a string of scandals that rocked the 15-member council in recent years.