City Desk

Ted Loza Arrest: Early Answers to Early Questions

LL just emerged from an impromptu press gaggle held by Ward 1 Councilmember Jim Graham. His longtime aide Ted Loza was arrested today on bribery charges after being videotaped accepting $1,500 in bribes to push a bill allowing hybrid taxicabs in the city.

Graham says he is "deeply troubled at the indictment of Teddy Loza...someone I have grown to trust and have confidence in."

He denied having any participation in any scheme to trade money for legislative favors: "I have had no engagement whatsoever in any illegal or unethical behaviors," adding that Loza "has never to my recollection spoken to me about any element of any taxicab bill I was considering."

Some early questions:

What is the involvement of United Fleet Management, Prisma Communications, and Fiesta D.C.?

According to a search warrant served this afternoon at Graham's office, federal investigators are interested in documents related to these three firms. Prisma Communications is a Hispanic-owned Adams Morgan advertising and graphic design outfit; a person who answered the phone there today says that they've never had any business dealings with Loza, Graham, or Graham's office. United Fleet Management is a firm that handles operations for small taxicab operators; a call to its offices this afternoon reached the voicemail of Causton Toney, a former Williams administration official who served as chair of the D.C. Taxicab Commission. Fiesta D.C. is an outfit that puts on an annual Latino festival in Ward 1. Graham has sent several earmarks to the organization over the years; most recently, he proposed sending the group $200,000 in the 2010 budget, though that earmark was stripped. In the budget year just ending, the group did receive $200,000.

Who are 'Individual Number 1,' 'Individual Number 2,' and 'Staffer Number 1'?

Staffer No. 1 is someone who works in Graham's council office (more likely, his committee office) and works on taxicab issues; there is no indication in the indictment document that this person is involved in any illegal activity. Individual No. 1 is the prime mover in the bribery transactions, having been recorded on two occasions handing money to Loza. He says he is "working with the taxicab small owners regarding...the legislation with the hybrid cars." It is not clear whether this person was cooperating with the federal investigators. Individual No. 2 is not caught on tape; Individual No. 1 is recorded saying that this person "has a lot of money to invest in D.C." and has an interest in getting an exception to the taxi license moratorium. No. 1 says the cash was coming from No. 2 as well.

Who dropped a dime?

There is no early word on whether Individuals Nos. 1 or 2 were cooperating with authorities, though it seems unlikely they would have been unaware that No. 1's conversations with Loza were being recorded by authorities. One intriguing possibility: If No. 1 was working with "taxicab small owners," they might have reason to embarrass Graham, who has been no friend to cab owners, large or small, in recent years. Were they pissed enough to call the feds? Who knows?

What motive did Loza have to take a bribe, and what was his relationship to Graham?

In the killer quote of the whole indictment, Loza says to his briber, "You know I need it. That's why I take it you know." Graham said today he didn't know of any financial or other personal pressures on Loza. Here's an interesting fact: According to property records, Graham holds once held a one-percent interest in Loza's home in Columbia Heights starting in 2002. In 2007, he granted that ownership stake to Loza and co-owner Ligia X. Munoz.

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  • Tipster

    Ted Loza is also on the board of Fiesta D.C. That I know for certain.

  • Tipster

    See if you can get ahold of the staff list for the ad agency. My guess is that one Ligia X. Munoz is/was on the staff there...

  • John Thacker

    "to push a bill allowing hybrid taxicabs in the city."

    Not exactly. To push a bill putting a cap on the number of taxicabs in the city (currently there is no limit), but exempt hybrid taxicabs from the cap.

  • Ducci

    Finally, this weasel has been revealed. I was assaulted by this miscreant and his friend while working security at a bar and miraculously became the defendant in the case. This, done through his corrupt political connections.

  • Not Surprised

    He tried to get a poor girl he impregnated deported.
    He called ICE on her.

  • JB

    Jim Graham should resign now.

    He promoted legislation which would benefit a few select companies while decreasing competition. That's sick even without the bribery.

    Jim Graham is a clown and needs to go.

  • KCinDC

    Graham says Loza "has never to my recollection spoken to me about any element of any taxicab bill I was considering"? I'm willing to believe Graham has done nothing wrong, but he doesn't make that look more likely by making ridiculous statements. Is it believable that a council member would not have any conversation with their chief of staff about a bill they're introducing?

  • Korrupt

    Graham has to go Resign Jim Graham!

  • JMan

    “You know I need it. That’s why I take it you know.”

    After the tape recorder crapped out:

    "Because they're having a preferred customer's sale at my favorite clothiers. As a chief of staff to a DC city councilman, we all know I have needs, like the need to dress like a Lebanese banker. People expect this of a person of my power and stature. I can't let the public down. These suits are my trademark, especially the uniquely colored ones, and come on fellas, these Egyptian cotton European fitted shirts don't buy themselves! So, I really appreciate the help at this time."

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