Los Angeles Times and Consumer Watchdog Seek to Unseal Evidence in Criminal Investigation of Former City Attorney and Department of Water and Power

The Los Angeles Times and Consumer Watchdog have jointly filed an application in the U.S. District Court’s Central District, requesting the unsealing of 33 search warrants, affidavits, and other documents related to the criminal investigation of former City Attorney Mike Feuer’s office and the Department of Water and Power (DWP). The documents, totaling 1,451 pages, are expected to shed more light on the scandal that was previously described as an “incredibly sordid affair” by U.S. District Court Judge Stanley Blumenfeld Jr., who is overseeing the criminal case.

Consumer Watchdog’s legal director, Jerry Flanagan, emphasized that the law clearly states that the public has a right to access documents once a government criminal investigation has concluded. The application also highlights the public’s interest in determining whether or not Feuer bears culpability for the scandal. Feuer, who is currently running for the 30th Congressional District seat, has consistently denied any wrongdoing.

The investigation, which focused on illicit city contracts and a fraudulent lawsuit involving the DWP, concluded last year. Four individuals, including three high-ranking city employees, pleaded guilty to various crimes related to a 2015 class-action lawsuit filed by DWP customers. Prosecutors revealed that an attorney from Feuer’s office drafted the lawsuit and passed it to an opposing attorney, who then filed it against the city. The intention was to expedite the settlement of numerous claims made by DWP customers who had been overcharged due to a faulty billing system.

While several individuals allegedly had knowledge of or involvement in various schemes, they were not charged. The situation became more complex when former attorney Paul Paradis, who ghost-wrote the lawsuit and admitted to receiving a kickback, claimed that an FBI agent testified in two affidavits that Feuer had perjured himself before a federal grand jury. Paradis also accused Feuer of making false statements to the FBI. Feuer, however, pointed to a letter from the U.S. attorney’s office in 2022, which stated that he was not under investigation.

The application filed by The Times and Consumer Watchdog argues that the unsealed documents are crucial for monitoring the charging decisions made by the U.S. attorney’s office. It asserts that the public has a strong interest in understanding why certain influential and powerful public officials were not charged, while lower-ranking officials faced charges.

Efforts to negotiate access to the documents between the attorneys for The Times, Consumer Watchdog, and the U.S. attorney’s office began in January but were unsuccessful. The U.S. attorney’s office in Los Angeles declined to comment on the matter.

Author: CrimeDoor

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