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Ted Loza, chief of staff to Ward 1 Councilmember Jim Graham, after receiving a payoff from someone with an interest in taxi regulation, according to a federal indictment that was unsealed today. The indictment charges Loza with two counts of accepting a bribe by a public official.
Federal prosecutors are accusing Loza of accepting “cash, the use of vehicles, and trips” in exchange for pushing certain legislation affecting the taxicab industry. The person who allegedly offered the bribes to Loza is not identified in the indictment, but the document does specify what sort of favors were under discussion: After advocating for the enactment of a moratorium on the issuance of taxicab licenses, the unidentified lobbyist then worked with Loza to arrange for the council to pass an exception to the moratorium.
The charging documents feature this Gotcha! moment, in which Loza is discussing the license-exception legislation with “Individual No. 1.” In this conversation, Loza is giving the “individual” copies of legislation that the “individual” had sought:
LOZA: I got you an extra copy, and I just sent you an electronic copy of this as well
Individual No. 1: Beautiful, wow, beautiful. Really. I want to thank you very much.
LOZA: Yes, sir.
Individual No. 1: Thank you very much for, you know, arranging meetings with [Public Official Number 1].
Individual No. 1: It means a lot for me, and , uh, you know the community. Uh, it’s wonderful, you know, and we have a piece of—-
LOZA: We’re on our way!
Individual No. 1: OK. We have a piece of, um—-the hybrid as well right here on this legislation?
LOZA: Yeah. That’s the exception.
Individual No. 1: The exception. OK. Yeah, I really, I mean—-
LOZA: But, but, read it, and, uh, then let me know if there’s something—-
Individual No. 1: I will, definitely I will—-
LOZA: —-that, that raises your eyebrow—-
Individual No. 1: Oh, sure.
LOZA: —-or concerns you.
Individual No. 1: Definitely, and I want to thank you very much for this, and, you know—-
LOZA: Thank you very much.
Individual No. 1: Very helpful for us, you know. Uh, and [Individual Number 2] wanted to really thank you as well for this.
LOZA: He does? What, didn’t he thank me or didn’t you guys thank me already?
Individual No. 1: Here—-here. This is for you. And, uh, thank you very much for him. [Individual Number 1 handed $500 in cash to Loza.]
LOZA: You know I need it. That’s why I take it, you know.
The indictment recounts another conversation after which Loza allegedly accepts a $1,000 “Father’s Day gift” for his work on behalf of Individual No. 1.
Reporting by Jason Cherkis and Mike DeBonis
Photograph by Darrow Montgomery