Former Los Angeles City council aide George Esparza has agreed to plead guilty in an ongoing RICO investigation. Esparza’s plea agreement reveals he facilitated a substantial payment made by a Chinese real estate developer to settle sexual harassment claims against his boss back in 2014.
The dates in Esparza’s indictment coincide with an allegation made by Francine Godoy against her former boss Jose Huizar.
The plea agreement states that, at the urging of another city official described as “Individual 1,” Chairman E agreed to facilitate a $600,000 payment to help Councilmember A confidentially resolve a sexual harassment lawsuit filed against Councilmember A during a 2014 re-election campaign.
In exchange for the $600,000 from Chairman E, Councilmember A routinely assisted with Chairman E’s requests. For example, Councilmember A introduced and secured the passage of a resolution before the City Council that recognized Chairman E’s “achievements and contributions to the economy of CD-A,” the plea agreement states.
Chairman E provided over $1 million in bribes to Councilmember A so that Councilmember A would benefit Chairman E’s plans to redevelop his property in CD-A which would be a 77-story skyscraper that would be the tallest building west of the Mississippi River.
Esparza admitted that he was a member of the criminal enterprise from early 2013 through November 2018 accepting private flights, $32,000 in gambling chips for casinos in Las Vegas and Australia and escort services from the developer in addition to facilitating bribes on behalf of his boss.
Esparza also admitted to lying to special agents with the FBI during interviews in June and July of 2017 by falsely stating, among other things, that he had no knowledge of any city official helping on a project in exchange for money, gifts or campaign contributions.
George Esparza left Huizar’s office to work with Assembly woman Wendy Carrillo who also represents the Boyle Heights area. The two made news earlier this year when they were reprimanded for inapropriate sexual comments in the workplace.
Esparza faces a maximum of 20 years in federal prison and has agreed to cooperate in the ongoing investigation.