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“You know I need it. That’s why I take it, you know.”
—Ted Loza, chief of staff to Ward 1 Councilmember Jim Graham, June 19
Federal agents swarmed the John A. Wilson Building on Sept. 24, after a sting operation caught Loza accepting a $1,500 bribe to influence taxi legislation on behalf of Abdulaziz Kamus, an Ethiopian community leader. (He offered the above rationalization in the process.) Loza, long one of Graham’s top aides, had a close relationship with his boss—close enough that Graham bankrolled a 2006 abortion for a woman that Loza had abused. But Graham consistently denied any wrongdoing, and the federal probe soon turned away from city hall and into the District’s taxi industry. Later in the fall, the feds arrested taxi mogul Yitbarek Syume and dozens of aspiring cab drivers, as part of what was revealed to have been a long-running investigation that involved the cooperation of wire-wearing, whistleblowing Taxicab Commission chair Leon Swain. But political fallout is ongoing—though Graham hasn’t been personally implicated in any illegalities, the scandal has emboldened at least two Ward 1 community activists—Jeff Smith and Bryan Weaver—to explore runs against him in 2010.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery