Ted G. Loza, former D.C. Council staffer for Councilman Jim Graham (Ward 1) pled guilty Friday in federal court. He admitted he accepted money for guiding legislation relating to the taxi industry. The charges for conspiracy and bribery were levied. He also pled guilty for making a false statement on a D.C. government financial disclosure form. Loza once served as Graham’s Chief of Staff.
On Twitter, one supporter of Loza said, “Ted did what was best for the city.”
Loza, 45, was in court wearing a dark blue suit with a D.C. flag pinned to his lapel. He is due to be sentenced on May 12. FBI records show that Loza admitted that he accepted $1,500 in payments in 2009 during two surreptitiously videotaped meetings with FBI informant, Abdulaziz Kamus.” Kamus is an advocate for Ethiopian cabdrivers, and has worked closely with other taxi businesses.
At sentencing, Loza could face up to fourteen (14) months in federal prison. In 2004, Loza joined Graham on a trip to Ethiopia, which Graham deemed as cultural outreach. Six months later, Kamus and two other men met and stated that they planned to offer Graham another trip to Ethiopia in exchange for his support of legislation to impose a moratorium on the issuance of taxicab licenses.
During the court proceedings, he remained silent before U.S. District Judge Paul L. Friedman. Pleasant Brodnax, Loza’s attorney said, “There was no cooperation agreement as part of the plea deal.” In laymen terms: the government will not get help from Loza to file indictments on others.
It’s assumed that Loza, who is not a U.S. citizen, will be deported to his native Ecuador once he has completed his sentence. Legally, he can be deported because he has pled guilty and is not a U.S. citizen. He was arrested in September 2009, and was the first public action in a long-running federal corruption probe. After his arrest, federal authorities announced the indictments of three Ethiopian business owners accused of giving the chairman of the D.C. Taxicab Commission more than $200,000 in bribes over a two-year span. Their cases are pending in federal court. Following this came charges against 36 other men accused of paying more than $100,000 to obtain taxi-operator licenses.
If it all sounds confusing, it goes a little like this: Loza accepted the payments for his assistance with the introduction of legislation that would have exempted hybrid taxis from an existing moratorium on cab licenses.
The Washington Post reported, “Kamus handed Loza a “Father’s Day” present of an envelope containing $1,000 in cash, according to court papers.
“What do you want me to do?” Loza asked after receiving the cash, according to a transcript of the conversation. “What do you want me, I’ll talk to [Graham]. And I can call you back later on.”
Shortly thereafter, Graham introduced the hybrid exception to the taxi moratorium, authorities have said. Graham has denied wrongdoing and has not been charged with a crime.”