LOS ANGELES – FBI agents searched the headquarters of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power on Monday morning as part of an ongoing investigation.
Agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigations were also seen at the city attorney’s office inside City Hall on Monday, according to media reports.
A spokesperson for the FBI’s Los Angeles office says search warrants were served today at the Department of Water and Power headquarters in downtown Los Angeles and at a location in City Hall.
The affidavit in support of the search warrant has been sealed, so the FBI cannot comment on the nature of Monday’s search.
No arrests are planned, and agents are expected to be at both locations through the day and possibly into the evening, said Laura Eimiller with the FBI’s Los Angeles office.
A Department of Water and Power spokesperson confirmed the raid but declined to comment, and an email for comment sent to the city attorney’s office was not immediately answered by press time. Alex Comisar with Mayor Eric Garcetti’s office said the mayor was informed of the raids early Monday.
“The mayor believes that any criminal wrongdoing should be investigated and prosecuted. His expectation is that any city employee asked to cooperate will do so fully and immediately,” Comisar said in an email.
This is not the first time FBI agents have raided City Hall recently. Last November, agents served warrants at the home and office of City Councilman Jose Huizar.
Several city employees were named in federal search warrants issued in 2017 and 2018 over major development projects that they approved.
Federal investigators served a search warrant on Yahoo in February 2017 seeking Huizar’s personal email. In July 2018, Google received a warrant to allow investigators to examine the email of Ray Chan, a former head of the Department of Building and Safety under Garcetti.
According to a July 2018 search warrant, federal investigators sought financial records on Huizar, his mother, brother and records on “development projects in and around Los Angeles that relate to foreign investors” from Chan’s email account.
Those “foreign investors” are developers who seek to build large-scale projects in downtown Los Angeles.
Meanwhile, investigators sought records related to Salesian High School where Huizar’s wife, Richelle, worked as a fundraiser. The LA Times reported developers made large contributions to the Catholic school while seeking favorable votes from Huizar, who sat on the Planning and Land Use Committee which oversees housing development and other large-scale projects in the city.
Investigators sought records pertaining to bribery, kickbacks concerning federal funds, deprivation of honest services, extortion, money laundering and structuring a financial transaction to evade a reporting obligation or suspicion from financial institutions.
The July 2018 search warrant referenced Huizar and two of his former staffers, as well as Joel Jacinto, a Garcetti appointee who serves on the city’s Board of Public Works, Chan and current Councilman Curren Price, and another councilman’s chief of staff.
— By Nathan Solis