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Breaking: Brother of Former Councilmember Jose Huizar Agrees to Cooperate With The Feds, Admits To Lying To Investigators

Courtesy of Jose Huizar.

Salvador Huizar, the older brother of Jose Huizar, a former city council member facing federal racketeering charges, admitted to accepting envelopes of cash from his younger brother in exchange for checks and other forms of payment and then lying to investigators about it in a plea agreement filed in federal court today. The 57-year-old agreed to cooperate with the government’s “ongoing investigation” and testify in his brother's upcoming political corruption trial.

Salvador is expected to plead guilty to one charge of making a false statement to a federal agency “in the coming weeks” and is looking at a statutory maximum sentence of five years in the feds if convicted. Jose Huizar remains out on bail and is awaiting trial.

According to the plea agreement, Salvador and Jose Huizar met at least 20 times between November 26, 2013, and August 22, 2018. During those meetings, Jose handed envelopes of cash to Salvador, who promptly “wrote checks or facilitated electronic payments” in return or arranged to pay for Jose’s expenses. Salvador claims in the plea agreement he asked about the mysterious envelopes of cash on several occasions, but Jose kept him in the dark about the source of the funds.

When FBI agents began asking questions in November of 2018, Salvador falsely claimed that “Jose Huizar never asked him to write any checks, except on two occasions and for which he was not paid back,” the US Attorney’s Office said in a news release. Two years later, Salvador again made false statements to the FBI and federal investigators on two occasions. 

The plea agreement comes after several other guilty pleas in the Huizar corruption case and three days after the audio of council members Nury Martinez, Gil Cedillo, and Kevin de León making racist, anti-Indigenous, homophobic, antisemitic, and culturally insensitive statements surfaced online. The L.A. Times was the first media outlet to report on the audio, which has recently dominated news coverage and shaken up city hall in a way that hasn’t been seen for decades. Knock LA later posted the full conversation on their website. 

By Wednesday afternoon, former Council President Nury Martinez resigned from her position as the representative for Council District 6. Council members Cedillo and de León have similarly faced overwhelming calls for their resignation from local officials such as the mayor all the way up to the most powerful leader in the country, Joe Biden. But as of publishing, they’ve yet to resign.

The recent scandals have traumatized L.A. voters and residents who have long associated Los Angeles City Hall with corruption. In three years, four city council members, including Huizar and Martinez, have either faced criminal charges or resigned from their posts. Earlier this year, Councilmember Mark Ridley-Thomas was indicted on bribery and fraud charges, and former Councilmember Mitch Englander, who was also swept up in the Huizar racketeering investigation, pleaded guilty to interfering in the corruption probe.

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