The City Council’s Corruption Scheme

L.A. bribery trial spotlights City Hall corruption in run-up to election

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Los Angeles’ corruption scandal has been building since Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa was elected in 2005. It was only a matter of time before someone got caught.

The latest to be caught in a web of greed and bribery is City Councilman Richard Alarcon, who was on the receiving end of a scheme involving the City Council’s budget committee, a city consultant and a lobbying firm.

The bribery scheme was revealed by federal prosecutor Todd S. Cahn, who unsealed indictments charging Alarcon and nine other City Council members in the corruption scheme.

In fact, Alarcon and six others, including his chief of staff, were indicted on bribery charges.

Alarcon spent about a year on the council’s budget committee, where his name often came up in the context of City Hall’s spending. The corruption alleged in the Alarcon-and-Council-in-Bribery case is an extension of the long-established practice of City Hall spending its dollars on issues that benefit the committee members. In the case of the Alarcon indictment, Cahn alleged that his office had obtained sensitive information of what the council was thinking about key issues, and then used that information to shape the council’s agenda.

The first allegations of “bribery” against Alarcon date back to July 8, 2004, when then-Councilman Mike Bonin accused Alarcon of accepting a $1,000-a-month job as chief of staff in exchange for having influence over various governmental issues.

On Sept. 14, 2004, Councilman Alarcon and former Councilman Bob J. Scala Jr. were subpoenaed by Cahn’s investigators; they did not appear before the grand jury on Jan. 10, 2005.

In January 2005,

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