Consumer Watchdog and the Los Angeles Times Petition Federal Court to Release FBI Warrants Related to LA City Attorney and LA DWP Corruption

LOS ANGELES, Feb. 22, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — Yesterday afternoon the non-profit Consumer Watchdog and the Los Angeles Times petitioned a federal court in Los Angeles to release 33 FBI warrants and related documents that detail the United States Attorney’s Office’s investigation into unethical and illegal activity at the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office and the Department of Water and Power (“DWP”).

Download the Application to Unseal the records here.
Download the Notice of Related Cases here.

The investigation resulted from a sham litigation scheme and subsequent cover-up by the City Attorney’s Office in the wake of the DWP’s botched launch of a new billing system in 2013 that cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars.

The government’s investigation ended in November 2023. One City Attorney official, Thomas Peters, was sentenced to 9 months of home detention, and two DWP officials pled guilty. However, significant questions remain about the roles other key officials played in the City’s misconduct, including former City Attorney Mike Feuer.

“The public is left to wonder whether Peters, the lowest ranking of several other unnamed City Attorney personnel, was really just the fall guy acting to benefit his bosses who have not been held to account,” said Jerry Flanagan, Litigation Director for Consumer Watchdog. “The public has a right to know what top City officials did while performing their public duties.”

As alleged in the Application to Unseal the court records filed yesterday, “[t]his case concerns a tale as old as time—corrupt and unethical behavior by public officials after mismanagement at a public utility. While the broad strokes of the story here are largely known, the public has a significant interest in the important details provided in the warrant materials.”

According to court records, in attempt to take control of the ever-worsening DWP billing debacle, in late 2014 the City Attorney’s office hatched a scheme to sue itself through a collusive “white knight” lawsuit, in which the City Attorney’s Office controlled the litigation nominally brought on behalf of DWP customers against the City. The lawsuit ultimately settled on sweet-heart terms beneficial to the City.

As noted in the Application to Unseal Court Records filed yesterday following the collusive litigation settlement, an employee of one the Special Counsel working on behalf of the City Attorney’s Office threatened to expose the City’s misconduct unless she was paid off. According to court records, unnamed high-ranking officials at the City Attorney’s Office directed the extortion payment to be made in the amount of $800,000.

As noted in the Application filed yesterday, the Los Angeles Times previously reported that “the end of the government’s case is prompting a new round of questions. Critics ask why certain individuals — including high-ranking personnel in the city attorney’s office who remain unidentified in prosecutors’ public court filings — escaped punishment.”

In particular, the Application to Unseal court records alleges that serious questions remain about former City Attorney Mike Feuer’s knowledge of the illegal and unethical behavior.

For example, as alleged in the Application to Unseal: 

  • At the sentencing hearing last November for former Special Counsel Paul Paradis, Mr. Paradis stated in open court that FBI Special Agent Andy Civetti “testified in at least two . . . affidavits [included in the warrant materials sought by Consumer Watchdog and the Times] that Mike Feuer testified falsely and perjured himself before a United States grand jury.” Mr. Paradis stated that Mr. Feuer “also made false statements to the FBI during interviews, and he testified falsely in connection with his civil deposition.”
     
  • At Mr. Paradis’s sentencing hearing, Judge Stanley Blumenfeld similarly remarked that “too few people have been held to account,” and that prosecutors did not “succeed in sweeping up all of the dirt that needs to be swept up.”
     
  • Mr. Paradis later spoke to reporters and confirmed that the FBI agent’s determination “involves extortion and it also involves when Feuer knew about the collusive scheme. He lied about both.”

Lawyers for Consumer Watchdog and the Times said the public has a strong interest in assessing why prosecutors made the charging decisions they did, particularly where those decisions were made about highly influential and powerful public officials who were not charged, while lower ranking officials were charged.

Tim Blood of the law firm Blood, Hurst, O’Reardon LLP—who like Consumer Watchdog has been a key figure in exposing the scandal since 2014—and open records expert Kelly Aviles joined lawyers for Consumer Watchdog in prosecuting the legal action to unseal the FBI warrants.

A hearing on the application to unseal the records is expected in the coming weeks.

SOURCE Consumer Watchdog

Originally published at https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/consumer-watchdog-and-the-los-angeles-times-petition-federal-court-to-release-fbi-warrants-related-to-la-city-attorney-and-la-dwp-corruption-302069248.html
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