Politician Jailed For Bribery After Vegas Trip Down $80k More
Only the guys in “The Hangover” can beat Mitchell Englander for regrettable Las Vegas trips. Five years ago, Englander was an L.A. City Council member who reportedly knowingly accepted a free hotel room, expensive booze, and an envelope with $10,000 cash, among other no-nos.
That trip eventually led to criminal charges, a guilty plea, and more than a year in prison for Englander. But it got even more regrettable on Wednesday, when the 52-year-old was socked with a new $79,830 fine from the L.A. City Ethics Commission for violating city gift laws.
L.A. officials are required by law to disclose any gift they receive worth at least $50 from a single source. In 2017, the year of Englander’s Vegas trip, L.A. officials were also prohibited from accepting more than $470 in gifts from a single source.
Englander — who represented District 12 in the San Fernando Valley from July 2011 until resigning three years ago — admitted to covering up $15,000 in cash payments, expensive meals, and other gifts offered to him. The bribes came from a businessman seeking to increase his power base. (Two months after the Vegas trip, that businessman began cooperating with the FBI and recording his interactions with Englander.) Englander pleaded guilty to scheming to falsify material facts and served 14 months in prison.
New Ethics Probe
Englander was first served with the Ethics Commission accusation last December. The rules charged him with two counts of accepting excess gifts, one count of misusing a city position, and two counts of failing to disclose gifts. The commission voted 4-0 on Wednesday to impose the stiff punitive fine.
“I think what we’re doing today is a very significant process at this point,” said commission VP Jeffery Daar. “The proposed stipulation demonstrates that no one, including elected council members, are above the law in this city.”
Gary Winuk, Englander’s attorney, said in a statement after the vote that Englander was “relieved that this latest action by the Ethics Commission adds closure and finality.”
“Similar to the federal case, Mr. Englander was not charged with corruption, pay to play, or using his position as a councilman to take any wrongful action related to these charges,” Winuk said. “He has been rebuilding his life by volunteering with a local reentry program and continuing his commitment to public service by helping others put their lives on the right track.”
‘Greed and Arrogance’
At Englander’s January 2021 sentencing hearing, US District Judge John Walter said Englander had damaged “the public’s trust in government” by lying to the FBI on three separate occasions about the bribes he accepted .
In a statement to the court, Englander admitted he had “shattered” his own reputation and said he did not fully understand what drove him to give false information to federal investigators.
According to Walter, his motivation was easy to understand: “Greed and arrogance.”
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