Former GOP City Councilman Obstructed Probe into His Acceptance of Escort Services: Prosecutors

Depending on whom you ask, lying to authorities could be a federal investigator’s favorite or least favorite crime. A former city councilman has been charged for allegedly obstructing an investigation into his “accepting cash, female escort services, hotel rooms and expensive meals from a businessman during trips to Las Vegas and Palm Springs,” according to The Department of Justice.

Mitchell Englander, 49–who served Los Angeles’s District 12 as a Republican–faces three counts of making false statements, three counts of witness tampering, and one count of participating in a scheme to falsify material facts. This is in connection to an investigation into suspected “pay-to-play” schemes involving city public officials, prosecutors said.

The defendant’s illegal behavior spanned August 2017 through December 2018, prosecutors said. There’s a heck of an overlap there. Englander announced his resignation from the city council in October 2018, and formally stepped down at the end of the year. He said he was joining Oak View Group, a sports and entertainment advisory firm.

“While I didn’t seek this out — sometimes tremendous opportunities find you,” he said in a statement at the time, according to The Los Angeles Times. The outlet described this as a “surprise move.” The DOJ noted that as well, saying Englander “abruptly resigned on December 31, 2018”–with two years left on his term.

In any case, authorities say that Englander tried to get a man–“Businessperson A”–to lie and mislead federal authorities running a public corruption investigation. For example, on February 12, 2018, he and this person met in his car, the DOJ said. The then-councilman turned up the car stereo to interfere with possible audio bugs, and began driving in a circle to “conceal their meeting,” prosecutors said. During this purported conversation, he allegedly told this individual to lie to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

The DOJ describes Businessperson A as a cooperating witness working with the FBI on a public corruption investigation on suspect “pay-to-play” schemes linked to LA officials. This man “operated companies in Los Angeles relating to major development projects and sought to increase his business opportunities in the city,” authorities said. He was the person who allegedly gifted the defendant cash, food, and services from escorts, but later began working with federal investigators.

Records don’t name an attorney for Englander. His case is part of an ongoing public corruption investigation, authorities said.

[Screengrab via Englander’s YouTube page]

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