Friday, September 25, 2009

Jim Graham's chief of staff arrested on bribery charges

Yuh oh! Our city councilman's chief of staff, Teddy Loza, was arrested at home by federal agents yesterday on bribery charges. Allegedly someone had bribed and given trips to Loza, who lives on Columbia Road, to push for a bill that would benefit some taxicab industry people. Feds also searched the councilman's office. Graham isn't charged and has placed Loza on administrative leave. Graham says he's not involved and has no idea why someone would have bribed Loza and that Loza hadn't asked him to do anything involving taxis. Graham had introduced a taxicab bill, but told the City Paper it was a result of a task force.

In the above Post article, they say federal agents were looking for documents in the councilmember's office about "taxicab legislation, licenses, medallions, a taxi company called United Fleet Management and Fiesta D.C." Apparently the police used an informant with a wire to collect evidence on Loza. Loza's attorney says he has done nothing wrong.

The City Paper has a bit more:
Regarding the employment of Loza’s wife at the Fiesta D.C. nonprofit, Graham “categorically” denied that was connected to his practice of sending earmarked funds to the group through his committee. And he also addressed why, from 2002 to 2007, he held a one-percent interest in Loza’s condominium apartment: “When he first purchased the apartment, he wanted some assistance from me; I helped him a little bit.” When Loza refinanced, he says, he got his money back.
Here's Graham's statement:
I was deeply upset and deeply saddened to learn that Ted Loza was arrested yesterday by the FBI on charges of taking a bribe.

As my constituents, I want you to know --

I have not personally engaged in any illegal behavior or activity.

What Teddy allegedly did in no way influenced any action I took on legislation. Indeed, Teddy generally is not involved, nor is he consulted on legislative matters which are instead handled by myself and our committee staff.

As I said to FBI agents yesterday, I will fully cooperate with their investigation bringing forth all of the information relevant and needed.

I have placed Teddy on administrative leave effective yesterday, with pay, until there are further developments. Teddy--like all of us-is entitled to a presumption of innocence until proven guilty.

If you have concerns or questions, please let me know--as always--by using this direct email address for me.
Pretty wild! We'll see what happens.

UPDATE: Here's more from the City Paper on Loza and Fiesta DC.


Jon said...

This reporting is clumsy. It is improper to write that "someone had bribed and given trips to Loza." Until there is a guilty verdict, these should be reported as allegations.

Jon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Andrew said...

Good point.

Mike Licht said...

Ted Loza sat on the Board of Fiesta DC and his wife worked for the organization, which received a $200,000 Council earmark. Mr. Graham is an honorary board member.

This is a good time to put some substance in the Council's new ethics code by banning all Council earmarks. It is a recent practice, and a corrosive one.