LA County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl served with search warrant in public corruption investigation

A search warrant was issued Wednesday morning at the Santa Monica home of Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, amid what the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department is calling “an ongoing public corruption investigation.”

The raid was carried out by LASD and federal law enforcement around 7 a.m. The LASD confirmed that it was serving search warrants at the home of LA County Civilian Oversight Commissioner Patricia Gigans as well as at other locations including the LA County Hall of Administration, Peace over Violence Headquarters, and LA Metro Headquarters.

In an exclusive live interview with Fox 11, Kuehl said that his home search warrant “has no information about this” and was “signed by a judge who is a friend of the sheriff.” He denied any wrongdoing.

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“This is a bogus non-investigation,” Kuehl said. “There is no ongoing investigation that would support this warrant.”

The video shows Kuehl being escorted out the front door of his house and talking with law enforcement.

Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl was issued a search warrant Wednesday morning at her Santa Monica home. (Fox 11)

Kuehl said it could possibly be related to a disgruntled Metro employee with the contract, adding that “Metro is also being searched.”

Kuehl said the investigation is “based on a subway employee’s longstanding obsession.”

According to Kuehl, the Metro employee in question worked with the department “years ago” and when he was let go, invested in a contract on the LA Metro hotline and claimed Kuehl was involved.

According to the affidavit, “between the years 2014-2020, a series of ‘sole source’ contracts totaling more than $890,000 were awarded by the MTA to the Los Angeles-based non-profit organization Peace Over Violence.” A sole source contract is a non-competitive procurement that allows a single supplier to meet contractual obligations and requirements from, in this case, a public entity/government contractor (MTA).

Although the Sheriff’s Department declined to comment on the investigation, it issued a revised copy of the affidavit that led to the warrant. That document stated that the case was “allegations of criminal conduct” by Kuehl and three “sole source contracts” awarded to a non-profit organization operating under the name Peace Over Violence to operate a sexual harassment tip line for employees and riders. is examined. Metro transit system.

The affidavit documents the long history of friendship between Kuehl and Gigans, stating that Kuehl executed Gigans’ marriage in 2004 when she was a state senator. It also noted that Kuehl – ​​who serves on the Metro Board of Directors – is a member of the advisory board for Peace Over Violence and that Kuehl appointed Gigans to the Civilian Oversight Commission.

A previous investigation by Fox 11 showed that the operation of Peace Over Violence’s sex-harassment hotline cost taxpayers more than $8,000 per phone call. Although Line was said to have received 1,300 calls between 2017 and 2020, very few of them turned out to be valid, most of which were not applicable for hang-ups, testing or the purpose of Line.

In October 2019, only eight out of 29 calls reported by Metro turned out to be legitimate harassment reports. In 2019, out of 349 calls to the line, 260 were wrong numbers or hang-ups.

As of August 2017, only 13 legitimate sexual-harassment-related calls had been received on Line, which equates to a per-call cost of $8,450.

The investigation was based on allegations made by former Metro project manager Jennifer Lowe, who also alleged that Kuehl had put forward no-bid contracts for Gigantes and Peace Over Violence. Lowe was not formally identified in the search warrant affidavit, which cites only an unnamed “witness” who made the allegations. Lowe sued Metro to retaliate.

Kuehl said he was informed Tuesday night by a county attorney that the sheriff’s department was planning to visit his home on Wednesday morning.

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“I’ve never committed a crime,” she said.

Kuehl says he had no knowledge of the no-bid contract, which cost $494,000, just under the $500,000 limit that would have mandated a vote from Metro.

The board of supervisors has had a turbulent relationship with LA County Sheriff Alex Villanueva.

“I think the sheriff’s department going with this metro employee indicates that the sheriff’s department is involved,” she said. “Alexey [Villanueva] I’m told he has distanced himself from it… if he doesn’t know about it, it means there is a rogue element within the sheriff’s department and somehow it’s completely out of control Is.”

Villanueva did not comment on the search warrant. The search warrant’s affidavit states that Villanueva has in fact dissociated herself from any involvement in the investigation to avoid any presence of conflict.

The sheriff is in the middle of a controversial re-election campaign fighting against former Long Beach Police Chief Robert Luna in November.

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Mike Bonin, council member for the 11th District of Los Angeles, released Statement In support of Kuehl after the LASD raid. He said in part, “A corrupt sheriff with a track record of abusing his power and trying to silence and intimidate his critics is conducting a bogus, vengeful, politically motivated witch hunt. @sheela kuehlA public official of the highest integrity.”

City News Service contributed to this report.

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