For the past several years, there has been whispering around Los Angeles City Hall about an investigation surrounding Councilmember Curren Price (9th District) and former City Council President Herb Wesson’s Chief of Staff Deron Williams (10th District) concerning the indictment and corruption case of Jose Huizar.
The federal indictment subpoenaed email records and other files from both council offices and many, including several media outlets, portrayed Price and Williams as active participants in this corruption scandal.
So, on November 30, 2020, when new grand jury indictments were unsealed and new details of the wide-spread corruption scheme were released, it was Price and Williams’ names which were nowhere to be found. The indictment did add five new names to the corruption scandal, including former Deputy Mayor Raymond Chan, Wei Huang of San Marino, Shen Zhen New World 1, LLC a company owned and controlled by Huang, Dae (David) Lee of Bel Air and 940 Hill, LLC which is owned by Lee.
The alleged conspiracy, which includes over 30 indictment counts regarding Huizar. alleges a conspiracy to violate the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO) Act in which Huizar agreed to accept at least $1,500,000 in illegal financial benefits. Huizar and his co- conspirators are accused of over 400 acts of criminal enterprise, including bribery, money laundering and other illegal acts.
While the indictments of the developers and Chan are a surprise to no one, it is the blatant disregard to clear Price’s and Williams’ names, which have many within the African American Community outraged. “No one hesitated to mention/leak information about the subpoenas and investigations into Price and Wesson. But when the smoke settled, no one has bothered to mention that either man was cleared of any wrong doing or that nothing was found,” stated one City of Los Angeles employee.
Unfortunately, this has generally been the case when it comes to African American leaders in our community. Presumed guilty before proven innocence, and then, there is certainly a lot less fanfare to the lack of corruption, than there would be if even the smallest of improprieties had been found.
Mitchell Englander, another former Los Angeles City Councilmember, pleaded guilty to charges of scheming to falsify facts related to a trip he took to Las Vegas and Palm Springs which were also a part of this investigation.
The corruption case regarding Huizar, Englander, Chan and several others is certainly a sad note in Los Angeles politics. But, one can only hope that people use the same enthusiasm to shout from the mountain tops about there being no evidence of corruption as they did when spreading rumors about unfounded and misguided accusations of corruption.