January 17, 2022
To the Honorable John F. Walter
United States Courthouse
350 W. 1st Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012
c/o Courtroom Deputy Clerk Shannon Reilly
[update: by email reply, Deputy Clerk Shannon Reilly informs us “If you want your letter to be considered for submission to the Court, you would need to send it to the Assistant United States Attorney on the case. Then if they deem it proper, they would submit it to the Court. I cannot pass along your message directly to the Court.” We have re-sent this letter to the attention of Mack.Jenkins@usdoj.gov, Cassie.Palmer@usdoj.gov, Susan.Har@usdoj.gov and Brian.Faerstein@usdoj.gov]
Re: 1/23/2023 sentencing for Shen Zhen New World I LLC / Wei Huang
Dear Judge Walter,
We are Los Angeles preservationists, historians and tour guides who in the course of our volunteer efforts to have the Los Angeles Times Buildings across from your courtroom declared a protected landmark, ran directly up against the land use corruption emanating from the office of Los Angeles City Councilmember Jose Huizar.
Although our nomination was unanimously approved by the Cultural Heritage Commission in September 2018, it was subsequently rewritten by Huizar’s planning staff to accommodate property owner Onni Group’s stated intent to demolish the 1973 William Pereira addition and parking garage for two upzoned towers.
Shortly after Huizar designated this corrupted “landmark,” it was reported that Onni Group and their lobbyist had made large contributions to the PAC supporting the political campaign of Huizar’s wife, Richelle Rios. A pro-development PLUM Committee vote followed by a substantial payment is a pattern in Huizar’s career and in the cases that have been tried in your courtroom.
Later this month, you will be sentencing Shen Zhen New World I LLC and its owner Wei Huang for the second of three cases involving Jose Huizar.
Wei Huang stepped in with a $600,000 loan to make Jose Huizar’s political problems disappear, by paying a staff member with a credible sexual harassment claim to go away. Without this loan, it is very possible that Huizar would have lost his Council seat, and his chairmanship of the powerful PLUM Committee.
Although Wei Huang has never appeared in your courtroom and is believed to be in China, his Los Angeles based LLC has profited handsomely during the pandemic. The city chose the hotel at the center of his trial as the largest property using taxpayer funds to provide shelter to unhoused Angelenos during the COVID emergency. Mayor Karen Bass has just announced her intention to keep the LA Grand Hotel fully operational as emergency housing for another year.
It seems to us unconscionable that Wei Huang should be convicted of racketeering in your courtroom, while at the same time continuing to collect millions of dollars in taxpayer funds.
Please, in your sentencing, send a meaningful message to Wei Huang and the other property owners, lobbyists, attorneys and consultants who have worked with Jose Huizar and his city cronies to turn our beloved Los Angeles into a cash register.
Thank you for your attention, and all your good work on these complex cases. People who care about Los Angeles are watching, and are grateful.
Kim Cooper & Richard Schave