LA City Council

Former LA Councilman Pleads Not Guilty to Charges He Lied to FBI During Probe

Mitch Englander turned himself in and pleaded not guilty after FBI raids of Los Angeles City Hall and the Department of Water and Power.

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Former Los Angeles City Councilman and reserve LAPD officer Mitch Englander pleaded not guilty Monday to various federal charges alleging he lied to the FBI during a probe of alleged pay-to-play City Hall corruption. 

He surrendered to federal authorities Monday in connection with the FBI's ongoing probe. After pleading not guilty Monday afternoon, Englander was expected to be released shortly on $50,000 bond. He due back in court Thursday for a trial-setting conference.

Multiple law enforcement sources said Englander, 49, was accused of obstructing an FBI investigation into whether he accepted cash, trips to Las Vegas and Palm Springs, and female escort services from a businessman who was attempting to get approval for a number of real estate projects.

The indictment alleges that Englander accepted items from a person identified as Businessperson A during June 2017 trips to Las Vegas and Palm Springs. Those gifts included an envelope with $10,000 in cash, services from a female escort, hotel rooms, $1,000 in casino chips, $34,000 in bottle service at a club and a $2,481 dinner, according to the indictment.

After the trips, Councilman Englander arranged for Businessperson A to meet with a developer who was a friend of Englander's, according to the indictment. And, in August 2017, after learning of the FBI probe, Englander sent an encrypted message to Businessperson A that indicated he wanted to reimburse him for part of the Las Vegas trip, according to the indictment.

Englander told Businessperson A at least three times to provide false and misleading information and keep other details from federal prosecutors. In February 2018, the two allegedly met in Englander's car. He turned up the volume on the car's stereo and began driving around the block, repeatedly asking that Businessperson A lie to investigators, according to the indictment.

"Mitch is proud of the work he has done to serve his community as both a volunteer reserve police officer and a public official," Englander's lawyer Janet Levine said in a statement. "Despite this setback, with the support of his family and friends, he looks forward to continuing his lifelong contributions to the community that has given him so much."

The surrender and charges come after FBI agents last summer and fall served search warrants at City Hall, the Department of Water and Power, and at the home and office of Councilman Jose Huizar.

It was not immediately clear how those investigative efforts might be linked to Englander, who surprised colleagues and constituents when he resigned from his $210,000-a-year elected seat on the Council in December 2018 and went to work for a private consulting firm.

Englander, who represented the north San Fernando Valley on the Council and was an outspoken supporter of law enforcement, was for a time the only Republican member of the Council.

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