LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Former Los Angeles City Councilman Mitch Englander has agreed to plead guilty to obstructing a public corruption investigation into his activities.
Englander, 49, represented Los Angeles Council District 12 in the San Fernando Valley from July 2011 until he resigned on Dec. 31, 2018. He agreed to plead guilty to one count of scheming to falsify material facts, according to the Department of Justice.
Englander was arrested earlier this month in connection with an ongoing probe into “pay-to-play” schemes involving officials at Los Angeles City Hall. DOJ officials say Englander schemed to cover up cash payments, expensive meals, escort services and other gifts offered to him from a businessman who operated companies in Los Angeles who was involved in major development projects and wanted to increase his business with the city.
According to the DOJ, Englander admitted to accepting trips to Las Vegas and Palm Springs in June of 2017, taking an envelope with $10,000 in cash, hotel rooms, $1,000 in casino gambling chips, $34,000 in bottle service at a nightclub and a $2,481 dinner. The lobbyist and real estate developer who paid for the trip also bankrolled a female escort who was instructed to go to Englander’s room.
Justice Department officials also say Englander accepted an envelope that had $5,000 in cash at a golf tournament in Palm Springs. Shortly after the trips, Englander arranged for that businessperson to pitch a business proposal to a friend of Englander’s who was a developer.
After learning about the FBI’s public corruption investigation, Englander sent an encrypted message to the businessperson in question on a service called Confide, saying he wanted to reimburse him for portions of the June 2017 Las Vegas trip, according to the DOJ. He later also tried to coordinate his statements to the FBI and prosecutors with the businessperson with instructions on how to lie to and mislead the investigators.
Englander also admitted to making false statements to the FBI and federal prosecutors on three separate occasions.
A political fundraiser, Justin Jangwoo Kim, has pleaded guilty to facilitating a $500,000 bribe to a councilman in connection with the federal investigation, which also implicated former Councilman Jose Huizar.