Federal judge allows search warrant evidence in former Los Angeles councilman trial News
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Federal judge allows search warrant evidence in former Los Angeles councilman trial

A federal judge in the US District Court for the Central District of California Monday ruled against former Los Angeles City Councilman José Huizar, allowing evidence collected from a 2016 FBI search warrant at Huizar’s trial. Huizar argued that there were issues with the FBI search warrant.

Huizar served on the Los Angeles City Council from 2005 to 2020 and chaired the Planning and Land Use Management Committee until November 2018.

Huizar was first indicted on federal criminal charges in July 2020. Federal prosecutors alleged Huizar used his Los Angeles City Council position to enrich himself and his associates in a pay-to-play scheme for Los Angeles real estate development.

Huizar faces federal criminal charges including a RICO conspiracy charge, 12 counts of honest services wire fraud, two counts of honest services mail fraud, four counts of traveling interstate in aid of racketeering, six counts of bribery, five counts of money laundering, one count of structuring cash deposits to conceal bribes, one count of making a false statement to a financial institution, one count of making false statements to federal law enforcement and one count of tax evasion. He pleaded not guilty to the federal criminal charges in August 2020.

The government first began investigating Huizar in 2016. The FBI was tipped off to illicit conduct after a July 2015 trip to the Palazzo Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada. Palazzo employees became concerned after they noticed Huizar gambling with a Chinese billionaire at the high-rollers parlor. Following that tip, the FBI obtained and executed a search warrant for three years of emails from Huizar’s personal Yahoo account. As a result of the evidence found in those emails, the FBI obtained additional search warrants.

The attorney for Huizar, Charles Snyder, argued before US District Judge John Walter Monday. Snyder argued the initial FBI search warrant should be thrown out for lack of probable cause. Snyder also argued that if the initial search warrant were thrown out, the subsequent warrants should also be invalidated.

Judge Walter was unconvinced, stating that the initial search warrant was supported by ample probable cause. As a result, the government may continue to use the evidence obtained with the FBI search warrants in its case against Huizar.