On Monday morning, FBI agents served search warrants at both the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s downtown headquarters and City Hall, reports the Los Angeles Times. A “champagne-colored van” and several agents dragging large roller bags were spotted at the DWP headquarters, and an additional van was parked outside of City Hall East, which houses the City Attorney’s office and various county government offices.
— CBS Los Angeles (@CBSLA) July 22, 2019
While the affidavit supporting the warrant remains under seal by the court, the searches are happening amidst another sweeping FBI investigation into city hall, which has sought information about foreign investments into Los Angeles real estate, and involves Councilmen José Huizar and Curren Price, among other high-level officials.
It’s not clear whether this morning’s searches are linked to that investigation. In fact, considering that the DWP has been involved in its own series of scandals in recent years, this could be the start of another investigation entirely. In 2013, the DWP took heat when its faulty billing system overcharged some customers tens of thousands of dollars while completely failing to bill others, spurring a class action lawsuit.
In 2017, the city settled the case, agreeing to pay at least 67.5 million in refunds and credits to customers. However, a new chapter of the controversy unfolded earlier this year as a result of the city’s ongoing lawsuit against the consulting giant PricewaterhouseCoopers, which helped implement the billing system.
It was revealed that Attorney Paul Paradis—who worked for the city as special council in its case against PricewaterhouseCoopers—had also represented a DWP customer who was a lead plaintiff in the class action lawsuit against the city. PricewaterhouseCoopers alleges that Paradis colluded with the city so that the DWP could get a more favorable settlement.
While a spokesman for City Attorney Mike Feuer refused to tell the Times whether FBI agents had spoken to Feuer during their investigation of City Hall East, the paper’s city hall reporter David Zahniser spotted two agents leaving his office early this afternoon.
On the Eighth Floor of City Hall East, two gentlemen just walked out of City Atty. Mike Feuer’s office and headed for the elevators. I asked if they were with the FBI and one of the two answered: “Yeah.”
— David Zahniser 🦅 (@DavidZahniser) July 22, 2019
So far, no arrests have been made. A statement issued by Alex Comisar, a spokesperson for Mayor Eric Garcetti, said that the city did not know that these searches were happening before this morning, and revealed no additional details about their purpose. “We were notified earlier this morning that federal search warrants were being executed today. The mayor’s expectation is that any city employee who is asked to cooperate will do so fully and immediately.”
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