Concerns over COVID-19, attorney schedules and voluminous materials prompted a federal judge to vacate the June 22 trial date for ex-Los Angeles City Councilman Jose Huizar on corruption charges, according to papers obtained Saturday.
The judge indicated that due to the nature of the Huizar prosecution, including the charges and the amount of evidence produced by both sides, it was unreasonable to expect adequate preparation for pretrial proceedings or for the trial itself as scheduled in June.
Instead, U.S. District Judge John Walter set an April 5 status conference in Los Angeles federal court.
According to an agreement by the defense and prosecution, a June trial is impractical because of the “limitations of investigating a case of this complexity during the national emergency caused by the COVID-19 pandemic” as well as the busy trial schedule of Huizar’s federal public defense attorney Carel Ale.
Huizar, the central figure in a six-year probe of suspected corruption in City Hall politics, is charged in a 41-count racketeering indictment alleging he accepted $1.5 million in bribes from developers in exchange for his support of downtown building projects.
The federal probe also ensnared political operatives, lobbyists and the former general manager of the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety.
Huizar, who represented downtown L.A. and was the chairman of the Planning and Land Use Management Committee, has pleaded not guilty to the charges against him.
Prosecutors wrote that the government has produced almost 2 million pages of written reports, e-mails, third-party documents, and over 93,000 files of intercepted wire sessions, including audio and data files.
In addition, discovery materials include reports for over a dozen digital devices, over 260 hours of audio recordings in addition to intercepted wire sessions, data for over two dozen phones, GPS phone tracker data for multiple devices, and dozens of pleadings for wiretap applications, search warrants, cell site and GPS warrants, and other information, according to the stipulation filed Jan. 26.
Huizar is expected to eventually face trial with several associates, including Raymond Chan, who was general manager of the Department of Building and Safety and, more recently, was the city’s deputy mayor of economic development.