Former L.A. Councilman Mitchell Englander begins serving prison sentence

LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 12, 2020 Former Los Angeles city councilman Mitchell "Mitch" Englander, walks with his wife Jayne Englander, left, and his lead attorney Janet Levine, right, as they exit the Load Angeles Federal Courthouse after her appeared for a trial-setting conference Thursday morning March 12, 2020. The former Los Angeles city councilman is accused of obstructing an investigation into his allegedly accepting gifts from a businessman during trips to Las Vegas and Palm Springs and he faces seven federal criminal counts -- three of witness tampering, three for allegedly making false statements and a single count of scheming to falsify facts. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
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Former Los Angeles City Councilman Mitchell Englander, convicted in a sprawling City Hall corruption case last year, has begun serving his 14-month sentence at the U.S. penitentiary in Arizona, prison records show.

Englander was sentenced in January for lying to federal authorities about his dealings with a businessman who provided him $15,000 in secret cash payments and a debauched night in Las Vegas. He is the first to be imprisoned in a probe that has also produced felony charges against former City Councilman Jose Huizar, former Deputy Mayor Raymond Chan and several others.

Englander, who served on the council from 2011 to 2018, had been instructed to report to the prison system this week. He has a projected release date of May 28, 2022, said Scott Taylor, spokesman for the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

The federal prison in Tucson is a high-security penitentiary with an adjacent minimum-security satellite camp, which holds 92 inmates, according to the facility's website. Taylor said Englander will be housed at the satellite camp.

Taylor would not discuss the rationale for Englander’s projected release date. But he said federal law allows prison sentences to be reduced for a variety of reasons, including good conduct.

Asked about Englander’s incarceration, Mayor Eric Garcetti said he felt that justice had been served.

“If you break the law, it doesn’t matter who you are or what your title is, be prepared to pay the price,” he said.

Englander pleaded guilty in July to scheming to falsify material facts, a felony. As part of a plea deal, he admitted lying to prosecutors and FBI agents during three interviews in 2017 and 2018 about his interactions with a Southern California businessman who provided him with cash and other freebies.

At his sentencing hearing in January, U.S. District Judge John F. Walter said arrogance and greed drove Englander to “brazenly” cover up his misconduct.

Englander told the judge he took full responsibility for his crime, saying it had “shattered” his reputation.

Englander also received a $15,000 fine.

Englander, 50, represented Northridge, Porter Ranch, Chatsworth and other parts of the northwest San Fernando Valley. He was a reserve officer with the Los Angeles Police Department and a longtime fixture at City Hall, serving as a chief of staff to Councilman Greig Smith before becoming a councilman himself.

Huizar and Chan, two other high-level officials targeted in the corruption probe, have pleaded not guilty to an array of charges. Several others in the case have pleaded guilty, including a special assistant to Huizar.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.