Jury Convicts Developer Lee in LA City Hall Bribery Trial

Dae Yong Lee was the first defendant to go on trial in the City Hall corruption scandal surrounding former Councilman José Huizar and his associates.

A Los Angeles real estate developer was found guilty on Monday, June 27, of paying a $500,000 bribe to a city councilman to “grease the wheels” for a proposed downtown condominium project.

Dae Yong Lee, also known as David Lee, was the first defendant to go on trial in the City Hall corruption scandal surrounding former Councilman José Huizar and his associates.

Lee and his 940 Hill company — named for the address of the proposed downtown retail and residential project — were convicted of bribery, honest services fraud and obstruction. The fraud and obstruction charges carry a total penalty of up to 20 years in prison, prosecutors said.

The verdict came just hours after the federal criminal jury began deliberating in downtown Los Angeles. Sentencing was set for Sept. 19.

Evidence showed Lee used Huizar associate Justin Kim to transfer bags of cash on behalf of his company, 940 Hill LLC, to the councilman’s aide, George Esparza. Within days of payment, Huizar smoothed out a bureaucratic tangle that had halted the proposed mixed-use development from moving forward, according to testimony.

At the time, Huizar was head of a powerful city planning committee that reviewed the city’s biggest development projects.

As chairman of the panel, Assistant U.S. Attorney Cassie Palmer told the jury during her opening statement, “Huizar’s vote mattered, and the defendant knew his vote mattered. They needed José Huizar on their side.”

Defense attorney Ariel Neuman argued that his client had been conned by Kim, who told the developer the cash was needed to pay legitimate fees.

“He made the mistake of trusting the wrong person,” Neuman said of Lee. “He was taken advantage of by a liar and a thief. David Lee did not knowingly or intentionally bribe anyone. He thought he was paying a consulting fee.”

Kim admitted to facilitating the payment from Lee and pleaded guilty to a federal bribery offense. Lee and 940 Hill were also convicted of falsifying accounting and tax records to cover up the bribe — the basis for the obstruction charge.

Both Kim and Esparza took the stand at Lee’s trial for the prosecution.

Click here to read the full article in the Los Angeles Daily News

Comments

  1. Really??? says

    Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

    One party rule at the State and Local levels results in this.

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