A former Los Angeles city councilman was arrested by federal agents on Monday on charges of lying to FBI agents during a probe of his alleged acceptance of improper gifts including cash and "female escort services" in from a businessman during trips to Las Vegas and Palm Springs.
Mitch Englander, 49, was named in a seven-county indictment in late January and is scheduled to be arraigned Monday afternoon in federal court in downtown Los Angeles. Englander has been charged with one count of scheming to falsify material facts, three counts of making false statements and three counts of witness tampering.
According to the indictment, Englander, who represented L.A. City Council District 12 between 2011 and 2018, allegedly used his position on the Planning and Land Use Management Committee, to help solicit cash and other services from an unidentified businessman who "operated companies in Los Angeles relating to major development projects and sought to increase his business opportunities in the city.”
Federal prosecutors accuse Englander of covering up his "acceptance of cash payments, expensive meals and escort services."
The businessman Englander worked with subsequently began cooperating with federal agents who were investigating “pay-to-play” allegations at Los Angeles City Hall, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
On one trip to Las Vegas, federal prosecutors say that Englander, who was accompanied by two city staffers, a lobbyist and a real estate developer, accepted $10,000 in cash, services from a female escort, hotel rooms, $1,000 in gaming chips, $34,000 bottle service at a nightclub and a $2,481 dinner at a restaurant.
The indictment also allege Englander accepted $5,000 in cash during a June 12, 2017, golf outing in Palm Springs, and that he later arranged for the businessman to pitch his proposed business to one of the councilman's developer friends. Prosecutors also allege that Englander made multiple false statements to the FBI, including during one meeting with federal agents who interviewed him the day after he stepped down from the council.
Englander is also accused of "knowingly and willfully falsified and concealed material facts pertaining to this federal public corruption investigation.” After learning about the FBI probe in 2017, the former city councilman contacted the businessman privately in an attempt to reimburse him for some of the Las Vegas expenses. He also allegedly tried to convince the businessman to lie to federal investigators -- including once when Englander met with the businessman in his car and turned up the stereo volume in an effort to obstruct any possible listening devices.
Englander abruptly resigned from his seat on the City Council at the end of 2018 in the middle of his term saying he was moving to a job in the private sector.
He faces up to 50 years in federal prison if convicted on all charges.