The secretive nature of an FBI raid at Los Angeles City Hall and the Department of Water and Power’s main office in July has raised questions about the extent of the agency’s investigations into the city.
“The FBI executed search warrants last week at several locations in downtown Los Angeles. Those search warrants are under seal, so we are not able to discuss the scope or nature of the investigation,” US Attorney’s office spokesman Thom Mrozek told The Epoch Times.
City Attorney Mike Feurer’s office at City Hall was one of the locations searched in connection with the investigation. Those search warrants were linked to the failed rollout of LADWP billing software provided by the consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) in 2013 and subsequent litigation related to the issue, the City Attorney’s office told the Patch.
The botched implementation of the LADWP billing system caused inaccurate customer bills to be sent out across the city of Los Angeles, resulting in a class-action lawsuit against the city and another lawsuit against PWC.
The Los Angeles Times reviewed a portion of one of the search warrants, which showed federal investigators were attempting to find information regarding DWP contracts with companies associated with New York attorney Paul Paradis, who was hired by Feurer’s office for the lawsuit against PWC. Federal agents also searched an office in Beverly Hills belonging to attorney Paul Kiesel, who was also hired by Feurer.
It was discovered that Paradis’s involvement with the case had included a conflict of interest, as he served as a lawyer for the class action lawsuit against the DWP. He was also given no-bid contracts from the LADWP to comply with settlement terms in relation to the class action suit, reported the Times. The city ultimately shelled out over $36 million in contracts with companies connected to Paradis.
The warrant also mentioned other offices that were being targeted, such as those of the LADWP general manager, David Wright, and the LADWP Board of Commissioners. Possible crimes investigated include money laundering, bribery, and extortion.
Additionally, last November, City Councilman Jose Huizar’s offices and home in the Boyle Heights neighborhood were also raided. However, it’s unknown whether the new raids are related, and no arrests have been made.
The Epoch Times reached out to the FBI for comment, but officials said they were unable to address the issue due to the ongoing investigation. Attempts to reach out to the Los Angeles Attorney’s spokesman, Rob Wilcox, as well as Mayor Eric Garcetti’s office, were met with no response.
On Monday, July 29, Los Angeles Mayor Garcetti spoke with ABC7 about the raids.
“We had started an investigation as well, concurrent with what the FBI does, so we support them. Any team that comes in from the FBI, prosecutors or investigators, to help in this mission, I 100% support, and I expect everybody to do the same in the city. I have zero tolerance for any impropriety,” he said.
It was also reported that the LADWP chief was removed and replaced with an interim general manager, Martin Adams, who will officially take office in October.
“Clearly public trust is the most important thing in the department, we’ve had amazing progress and I want to keep that going,” the mayor said. “I think that leadership change was necessary. And we got a great leader in Marty Adams, who is experienced, who is well-respected, and he can make sure he can clean house and continue the progress that we have made.”
The LADWP has been under fire for money-related scandals in the past. In 2018, 306 of its workers took home over $100,000 worth of overtime pay. That same year, the LADWP paid $250 million in overtime, the highest in its history.
In one example, a security officer was paid nearly $314,000 in overtime pay, while his salary was listed as only $25,000. Three of his coworkers were paid over $200,000 each. Overtime pay is double an employee’s normal rate due to union contracts with the LADWP.
As the new investigations into the LADWP and other offices continue, details are scant as to who may be involved and what possible crimes are in play, prompting speculation about what could potentially be a major corruption scandal for the city of Los Angeles.