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Federal prosecutors filed charges on Aug. 25 against Morris Roland Goldman, 57, a longtime Los Angeles City Hall lobbyist and associate of City Councilman Jose Huizar, 14th District.
In a plea agreement filed on the same date in United States District Court, Goldman agreed to plead guilty to one felony count of conspiring to commit bribery and honest services mail fraud, and agreed to cooperate in an ongoing government investigation into City Hall corruption.
Goldman was charged with participating in a bribery scheme in which he brokered deals and induced a developer client to make $50,000 in political donations in exchange for Huizar taking official council action to benefit the developer. According to court documents, Goldman was a lobbyist for an unnamed company that had a pending development project in the city’s Arts District.
Goldman was one of several people who established two political action committees, one of which purportedly supported a variety of causes but actually was created to primarily benefit the City Council campaign of an unnamed Huizar relative. If elected, that relative was to have helped Huizar and his associates “maintain a political stronghold in the city,” according to court documents. Although not named nor charged with any crimes, Huizar’s wife Richelle ran for the 14th Council District office in 2018 and later dropped out of the race that year.
In his plea agreement, Goldman admits that in September 2018, he agreed with Huizar and an executive in the developer’s company that the developer would contribute $50,000 to a PAC established to support Huizar’s relative’s political campaign. In exchange, Huizar would vote against a union appeal of the company’s project in the council’s Planning and Land Use Management Committee, which he chaired at the time.
Court documents also describe that Goldman secured commitments from the developer’s company to contribute to other PACs at Huizar’s request prior to September 2018. Between November 2016 and March 2017, the unnamed company contributed a total of $50,000 to a PAC used to benefit Huizar’s political causes. In June 2018, Goldman secured a $25,000 contribution to the PAC to elect Huizar’s relative, as well as a commitment for an additional $25,000 contribution. The developer’s project ultimately received significant benefits in the city approval process.
Of the $150,000 in donations the developer agreed to pay, $75,000 was actually paid. The final payments were not made because of an FBI search of Huizar’s home and offices in November 2018.
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