- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The former chief of staff for a D.C. Council member was sentenced Tuesday to eight months in prison for accepting $1,500 from a member of the taxicab industry who sought beneficial legislation.

Judge Paul L. Friedman sentenced Ted Loza, 46, to eight months in prison, followed by four months of supervised release and 150 hours of community service in D.C. federal court.

Loza, who formerly worked for council member Jim Graham, pleaded guilty in February to accepting $1,500 in illegal gratuities and failing to report the money in a statement to the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics.

Initially in 2009, he was indicted on much broader charges including extortion, conspiracy and bribery, after prosecutors said he received free trips to Ethiopia and Miami and other cash gifts in exchange for pushing legislation that would benefit some taxicab businesses.

Prosecutors sought a 14-month prison sentence, but Judge Friedman opted for the lowest sentence recommended under federal sentencing guidelines, Loza’s attorney Pleasant Brodnax said.

“We are heartened that Judge Friedman considered the entire measure of Ted Loza rather than just the conduct at issue in this case,” Mr. Brodnax said.

More than 130 people also wrote letters to the judge on Loza’s behalf praising work he accomplished in their communities or other positive effects he had on their lives, Mr. Brodnax said.

Loza is among 27 people who have pleaded guilty as part of a large-scale investigation into corruption in the taxicab industry, prosecutors said. As part of Loza’s plea agreement, he admitted to accepting cash for his assistance with legislation that allowed an exception to the city’s moratorium on new taxicab company licenses for hybrid vehicles, prosecutors said.

Though the legislation was introduced, it never passed, according to testimony during Loza’s hearing.

Ethiopian leader Abdul Kamus, 54, of Silver Spring, who offered Loza the $1,500, pled guilty to charges of bribery and conspiracy to commit bribery, prosecutors said. He has yet to be sentenced in U.S. District Court.

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