Former Los Angeles City Council member Mitch Englander on Friday agreed to plead guilty to obstructing a federal investigation into his conduct while in office, according to a statement from the Justice Department. He faces a maximum of five years in prison once a formal guilty plea is entered with the court.
Englander, 49, allegedly accepted cash, female escort services, hotel rooms and expensive meals from an unnamed businessman during trips to Las Vegas and Palm Springs in 2017.
After the trips, Englander arranged for the businessman to meet with a friend of his, a developer, according to the Justice Department. When Englander learned of the FBI’s public corruption investigation, however, he allegedly contacted the businessman to provide reimbursement for the trips; Englander also asked the man to provide “false and misleading information” to FBI agents while lying to agents himself on at least three occasions, prosecutors said.
The businessman began cooperating with FBI agents two months after the Vegas trip, including making recordings of Englander’s interactions with him, the Justice Department added in its statement.
Englander agreed to plead guilty to one count of scheming to falsify material facts, the Justice Department said. The court has not scheduled a date for Englander to enter his guilty plea. The case is part of an ongoing public corruption investigation by the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s office focused on suspected “pay-to-play” schemes involving Los Angeles public officials.
Englander abruptly resigned from his post as representative of District 12, which covers Northridge, Chatsworth, Granada Hills, Porter Ranch and West Hills, in December 2018 – although he had two years left of his term. He cited an opportunity to work for live sports and entertainment company Oak View Group as the reason.
John Lee now represents District 12. He was previously chief of staff for Englander.