Los Angeles City Councilman Jose Huizar pleaded not guilty on Monday to bribery, money laundering and an array of other charges, his first public response to the allegations in the corruption probe since prosecutors began securing guilty pleas from others in the case.
Prosecutors announced last week that Huizar had been indicted on 34 felony counts, including wire fraud, mail fraud, tax evasion and giving false statements to investigators, which follow a previous allegation that he had been heading a criminal enterprise involving real estate developers, City Hall supplicants and an assortment of bribes.
Huizar, wearing a mask, entered his plea while appearing before a federal judge by video conference. His lawyers had previously declined to address the allegations lodged by federal prosecutors, saying they intended to wage a defense in court.
It was the councilman’s first court appearance since he received permission to have two deputy federal public defenders, Charles Snyder and Carel Alé, represent him in the probe. After he was arrested in June on a racketeering charge, City Controller Ron Galperin halted payment of the councilman’s salary, which was nearly $214,000 annually.
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