- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Two staff members for D.C. Council member Jim Graham were served with subpoenas to appear before a federal grand jury on the same day his chief of staff was arrested and charged with two counts of taking bribes from an unidentified individual to promote favorable taxicab legislation.

Steven Hernandez, who is listed as the council member’s legislative and budget director on his Web site, and David Vacca, who is listed as a legislative analyst, were served Thursday, according to a source close to the investigation.

Mr. Graham was not mentioned by name in the indictment of his chief of staff, Ted G. Loza. However, spokesman Brian DeBose said the council member has consulted a lawyer.

Mr. Graham, Ward 1 Democrat, is chairman of the Committee on Public Works and Transportation, which has oversight of the taxicab industry.

He told reporters Thursday that whatever illegal activity Mr. Loza may have been engaged in was not on his behalf.

On Tuesday, Mr. DeBose reiterated that sentiment.

“Mr. Graham has committed no wrongdoing. He is not involved in the investigation, nor is he a target. At this point, he has no involvement,” Mr. DeBose said.

Ben Friedman, a spokesman for the D.C. U.S. Attorneys Office, would not confirm or deny any details of the investigation.

D.C. Attorney General Peter J. Nickles also declined comment.

Federal agents searched Mr. Graham’s office suite on the first floor of the Wilson Building in Northwest Washington on Thursday, after arresting Mr. Loza, 45, at his home. Investigators confiscated documents and records related to taxicab legislation, licenses, medallions or financial transactions.

Authorities said Mr. Loza received “a stream of things of value” for participating in the scheme, including but not limited to cash, the use of vehicles, and trips from a person identified only as “Individual Number 1,” who was said to have “financial interests in the taxicab industry.”

Mr. Loza’s indictment referenced an unidentified “Staffer Number 1” in Mr. Graham’s office, and an “Individual Number 2,” who also appeared to have knowledge of the scheme.

Mr. Loza pleaded not guilty to the charges in U.S. District Court on Thursday afternoon. He was released on personal bond, but was required to surrender his passport and check in with the court on a weekly basis. A status hearing was scheduled for Oct. 16.

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