LOS ANGELES (AP) — Former Los Angeles City Councilman Mitchell Englander pleaded guilty Tuesday to a federal charge for lying to the FBI about receiving gifts and money from a businessman, including envelopes stuffed with $15,000 in cash.
Under a March plea deal, Englander pleaded guilty to a federal charge of scheming to falsify material facts while six other charges were dropped. He could face up to five years in prison when he is sentenced in September but prosecutors agreed to seek only three years or less.
“I accept full responsibility for my conduct,” Englander said in a statement later issued by his attorneys, and added: “I look forward to continuing to contribute to my community and helping others.”
Englander represented the 12th Council District, which covers the northwest San Fernando Valley, from 2011 until he resigned in 2018.
Englander acknowledged receiving $10,000 and other expensive gifts during a Las Vegas trip with city staffers and others in 2017, during which the businessman sent an escort to his room. Englander also acknowledged taking another envelope with $5,000 during a later trip to the Palm Springs area.
Prosecutors said the businessman sought help from Englander and others in marketing his cabinets and home technology to real estate developers in Los Angeles.
Englander’s plea came as the FBI continues a widespread corruption probe of City Hall.
Last month, City Council member Jose Huizar was arrested on racketeering charges and accused of masterminding a $1.5-million “pay-to-play” scheme tied to the approval of large building projects. He was suspended from his council position.
Huizar hasn’t entered a plea. His arraignment is scheduled later this month.
A real estate development consultant and a former political fundraiser have pleaded guilty to federal charges. A former Huizar aide, George Esparza, is expected to plead guilty later this month.