FBI agents served a search warrant at the downtown headquarters of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power Monday, but authorities declined to discuss the nature of the investigation.
“We are confirming a search warrant at Los Angeles DWP in downtown Los Angeles, but are prohibited from commenting further because affidavits involved in the warrant are sealed,” Katherine Gulotta of the FBI in Los Angeles told City News Service.
The FBI also served a warrant at Los Angeles City Hall East. Agents were spotted at the office of City Attorney Mike Feuer.
There was minimal activity visible at the DWP office building at 111 N. Hope St. in the Civic Center area. A van with an FBI placard was parked outside the building, and at least three agents were photographed entering the building. Another FBI van was parked outside City Hall.
It was unclear if the searches had any relation to an ongoing federal corruption probe at City Hall focused on downtown-area real estate developments and foreign investments in the projects, specifically from select Chinese investors.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s office issued a statement acknowledging the FBI’s presence at the Civic Center complex.
“We were notified earlier this morning that federal search warrants were being executed today,” said Alex Comisar, press secretary for Garcetti. “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.”
Federal agents served search warrants in November at City Councilman Jose Huizar’s offices and home, with court documents originally obtained by the Los Angeles Times and counterterrorism expert Seamus Hughes suggesting the probe is focused on potential crimes including bribes, kickbacks or money laundering. No criminal charges have been filed and no arrests have been made.
Huizar has denied any wrongdoing.
According to a 2018 search warrant affidavit targeting the email account of former Los Angeles Deputy Mayor Ray Chan, who also led the city’s Department of Building and Safety, investigators were searching for information relating to a wide array of people, including Huizar and Councilman Curren Price, Chinese investment groups and a trio of downtown hotel projects.
The Times reported in January that various real estate developers had received grand jury subpoenas for information about communications they have had with Huizar or his staff members over the past six years. The paper also reported that Huizar was facing questions for allegedly asking companies doing business at City Hall to donate to a private school where his wife was working as a professional fundraiser, and allegedly assigning his staff to help with the effort.