The FBI on Tuesday arrested Los Angeles City Councilman Jose Huizar on racketeering charges after a long-running corruption probe.
Huizar, a 51-year-old Democrat, was accused of taking bribes from developers and others with business before the City Council Planning and Land Use Management Committee which he chaired.
The investigation, dubbed "Operation Casino Royale," began five years ago after Huizar was seen cashing out casino chips he received from a Chinese billionaire with a hotel in his district, the FBI said.
The city council stripped Huizar of his powerful chairmanship after the FBI raided his home in 2018.
“This case pulled back the curtain on rampant corruption at City Hall,” said Los Angeles U.S. Attorney Nick Hanna.
“Councilman Huizar violated the public trust to a staggering degree, allegedly soliciting and accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes from multiple sources over many years,” he said. “Using the power of his office to approve or stall large building projects, Huizar worked through a web of other corrupt city officials, lobbyists, consultants and developers to line his pockets and maintain his hold on Council District 14, which he turned into a money-making criminal enterprise that shaped the development landscape in Los Angeles.”
The complaint says that after being sued for sexual harassment by a woman on his staff, Huizar accepted $600,000 in funds from the Chinese billionaire to settle the lawsuit.
The lawsuit threatened Huizar's 2015 reelection campaign, prosecutors said.
In May, a former top Huizar aide pleaded guilty in connection with his role in the bribery conspiracy, prosecutors said.
An email to Huizar's attorney from Fox News was not immediately returned.