The top aide to Councilman Jim Graham was arrested Thursday morning, charged with pocketing bribes to help steer taxi cab legislation through his boss’ office.
Ted Loza, Graham's chief of staff, was scheduled to appear in federal court hours later, charged with two counts of bribery. He was arrested early Thursday and his city hall office raided by federal agents.
He is a longtime aide to Graham, D-Ward 1, who chairs the council’s transportation committee and who earlier this year introduced legislation that would have lifted a moratorium on expensive taxi cab licenses — called medallions — for “environmentally friendly” cabs.
Graham fled from a Metro board meeting he was chairing Thursday and huddled with his staff through the morning. Early Thursday afternoon, speaking from inside his council office, Graham said he was “deeply troubled” by Loza’s indictment and denied any “engagement whatsoever in any illegal or unethical activity.”
Loza, Graham said, is “someone I’ve worked with for nine years, and someone I’ve grown to trust and have confidence in.”
In Thursday’s indictment, 44-year-old Loza is accused for accepting a $1,000 “Father’s Day” gift in a card from an unindicted co-conspirator. The co-conspirator, identified as “Individual No. 1,” also claimed to speak for “Individual No. 2.” A short while after pocketing that bribe, Loza brokered a meeting between Individual 1 and Graham, authorities allege in the 10-page document.
A few weeks later, according to the indictment, Loza handed copies of the proposed medallion legislation to Individual No. 1 and asked that person to “let me know if there’s something...that, that raises your eyebrow.”
Individual 1 then says he and No. 2 want to thank Loza again for his hard work. According to Thursday’s indictment, the following exchange took place:
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 No. 1 handed $500 in cash to Loza.]
Loza: You know I need it. That’s why I take it, you know.
To view the indictment against Loza click the thumbnail below: