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When billionaire Chinese developer Wei Huang burst into the U.S. real estate market 12 years ago, he did it with a bang, buying a downtown L.A. lot where he set out to build a 77-story skyscraper. It was supposed to be the tallest on the West Coast.
On Thursday, the criminal trial of Huang’s development company opened a few blocks from that site at the federal courthouse, where Assistant U.S. Atty. Patrick Castañeda accused him of trying to grease city approval of the project by paying $1.5 million in bribes to Jose Huizar, then the L.A. councilman who was City Hall’s effective gatekeeper on land-use approvals.
“Jose Huizar had the power to make Wei Huang’s dream a reality or a nightmare,” Castañeda told a jury.
From 2013 to 2018, the prosecutor said, Huang treated Huizar with all-expenses-paid trips on private jets to Caesar’s Palace, the Venetian, the Wynn and other Las Vegas casino resorts, where he got high-luxury accommodations and his pick from “a lineup of prostitutes” provided by the developer.
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