LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Former Los Angeles City Councilman Mitchell Englander was arrested today on charges of lying to the FBI during a probe of his alleged acceptance of cash, female escort services, hotel rooms and meals from a businessman during trips to Las Vegas and Palm Springs.
According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, Englander was named in a seven-county indictment in January and will be arraigned Monday afternoon in downtown Los Angeles.
Englander, 49, of Santa Monica, surrendered to FBI agents Monday morning. Englander is charged with one count of scheming to falsify material facts, three counts of making false statements and three counts of witness tampering.
Federal authorities allege Englander was trying cover up his acceptance of cash and other services from an unidentified businessman who "operated companies in Los Angeles relating to major development projects and sought to increase his business opportunities in the city." He allegedly accepted the cash and services during June 2017 trips to Las Vegas and Palm Springs.
The businessman subsequently began cooperating with federal agents investigating "pay-to-play" allegations at Los Angeles City Hall, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
Federal prosecutors contend that during the trip to Las Vegas, on which Englander was accompanied by two city staffers, a lobbyist and a real estate developer, Englander accepted $10,000 in cash, services from a female
escort, hotel rooms, $1,000 in gaming chips, $34,000 bottle service at a nightclub and a $2,481 dinner at a restaurant. The indictment also alleges Englander accepted $5,000 in cash during a June 12, 2017, golf outing in Palm Springs, and Englander later arranged for the businessman to pitch his proposed business to one of the councilman's developer friends.
Englander -- who served on the council's Planning and Land Use Management Committee -- resigned from his District 12 seat on the City Council at the end of 2018, after serving for seven years. He resigned in the middle of his term, saying he was moving to a job in the private sector.
According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, for more than a year before his resignation, Englander "knowingly and willfully falsified and concealed material facts pertaining to this federal public corruption investigation."
After learning of the FBI probe in August 2017, Englander allegedly began contacting the businessman privately in an effort to reimburse him for some of the Las Vegas expenses, prosecutors said. He also allegedly tried to convince
the businessman to lie to federal investigators -- including once when Englander met with the businessman in his car and turned up the stereo volume in an effort to obstruct any possible listening devices.
Prosecutors allege Englander made multiple false statements to the FBI, including during a meeting with federal agents the day after he stepped down from the council.
Englander faces up to 50 years in federal prison if convicted of all charges.
His arrest comes amid an ongoing corruption probe at City Hall centered on relationships between elected officials and well-heeled developers. In November 2018, FBI agents searched City Councilman Jose Huizar's City Hall
and field offices, along with his home, as part of the probe focusing on major real estate investments in the downtown area by Chinese companies. Huizar was chairman of the council's Planning and Land Use Management Committee at the
time. Huizar was never arrested or charged with a crime.
Read the full indictment here.