Loose Lips

Feds Say They Played Nice With Ted Loza

When Ted Loza flew into the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta, he ended up sitting in one of the small, windowless screening rooms sometimes utilized by Customs and Border Protection agents. Loza, the former right-hand man to Ward 1 Councilmember Jim Graham, must have been nervous. Flying back from his native country of Ecuador with Ligia Muñoz, he'd been pulled aside by security officials. Later, Muñoz would make the connecting flight to D.C. Loza, on the other hand, would find himself steeped in conversation with two FBI agents.

Lawyers for Loza, who is currently facing corruption charges that include bribery, argue that during his chat with authorities, Loza was under arrest. The fact that he was "escorted" everywhere he went, including to dinner at TGI Fridays, proves it. During the supposed arrest, Loza's lawyers say, the feds neglected to inform Loza of his rights. That means, the defense is arguing in a December motion, the stuff the agents got during their "marathon interrogation" shouldn't show up in court.

If that happens, that'll be a victory for Loza, since, during the talk, he also neglected to remain silent.

He listed every instance in which he had taken money—whether in the form of cash, gifts, a meal, or a coffee—since 2004. Loza was officially arrested in September 2009.

In a recent opposition to the motion, authorities give their version of what happened at Hartsfield, though, and it's way different. They say authorities never gave Loza the impression he was going to be cuffed, and Loza didn't seem as if he was worried about it. When they met up with him, they say, he was "calm and composed."

"After introductions, agents explained the purpose of the meeting to the defendant: That they had conducted an investigation of individuals involved with corruption in the Washington taxicab industry and wished to discuss the defendant's improper associations with those individuals."

Prosecutors say that though the agents closed the door to the room—for privacy— it was never locked. They also say that agents made it "clear that the decision whether to cooperate was the defendant's alone."

Other clues Loza wasn't under arrest? The agents spoke to him in a "conversational tone" and never "rose from their seats." Also, Loza was never searched or frisked, and spent a lot of time on his phone, a device to which he had "unfettered access." At one point, that was a problem, as "the defendant seemed distracted: he was more interested in using his Blackberry cellular telephone than talking with the agents." Prosecutors call the whole interaction "cordial."

Loza's trial will begin March 7.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

  • dcvoterboy

    Jim Graham is the Ward 1 Councilmember...

  • Truth Hurts

    Loza, and all other public employees on the take, deserve jail time.

  • Anonymous

    Jim Graham deserves jail time that is for sure!

  • DCDem

    Doors unlocked, no cuffs, dinner at Fridays', no mention of bars, doesn't sound like "arrest" to me.

    Weak defense. If that is the best he can do. He has one foot in the jail sell.

  • WARD4NDC

    Very interesting!

  • daveward3

    all the bloggers jump when a Fenty Associate is at stake but nobody is talking about all the stupidness happening already with Vince Gray.

    All of you want Graham in jail, how about Harry Thomas or the half of the corrupted transition team of Gray?

    This administration sucks! but nobody talks about it. Vince Gray gets the new office, a huge entourage but nobody blogs about it. WHY! because all of you bloggers were jealous of Fenty. Fenty was criticized for being secretive but Gray is more secretive and nobody says anything.

    This city is doomed because of its people. You deserve what you got.

  • WARD4NDC

    DaveWard3, you sound so bitter. I hope you don't have a heart attack. Let it go and move on. No one care or wish to discuss former King Fenty.

  • DC Respected Common People

    We agree w Dave from Ward 3, protecting and defending the former KING PIN Fenty and Nichols is truly old and for most Black and other non-minority happy news.

    However, current news about Ted Loza, a nice guy w/o a green card that earned tax payers dollars for a lead position in City Council via Jim Graham (a major Fenty supporter) is going down.

    Hopefully, this will include sanctions to Graham if the presiding DC Superior Court Judge has no personal/business ties to this Ward One Official that barely won.

    Even the Latinos are pissed w/ Graham because they too are confident that Loza moves were not employed w/o approval from the Ward 1 elected Councilmember.

    Damn, DC whites get what the hell they want and Black just stand by and talk and talk, until conversing becomes non-relevant.

    This process of change must come to an immediate END.

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