Los Angeles, CA -- City Attorney Mike Feuer should resign following a bombshell KNBC-TV report revealing Feuer was calendared for a meeting in which his office okayed an extortion scheme to keep the DWP billing debacle from becoming public.
Feuer has said he knew nothing about the extortion scheme that engulfed a former high-ranking attorney in his office, Thomas Peters. However, a Public Records Act request by KNBC places Feuer at a key Dec. 1, 2017 meeting in which federal prosecutors and Peters agreed that the extortion scheme was discussed. Feuer claims he doesn't remember the meeting.
Feuer has repeatedly denied knowledge of the collusive DWP billing litigation that took place under his watch as city attorney.
“If he was in the room, he knew about it," said Jamie Court, president of Consumer Watchdog. "It’s inconceivable that Mike Feuer was in the room when an order was given to pay off an extortionist to cover up the city attorney's misconduct and he didn't remember it. The calendar entry corroborates a mountain of circumstantial evidence pointing to Feuer’s involvement. He has disgraced the office of City Attorney and it’s time for him to resign."
Feuer's knowledge of the the extortion threat is backed up by other sources, including the federal government, and two former Feuer employees.
According to the latest criminal plea agreement in the DWP saga, former city attorney official Thomas Peters agreed to plead guilty to aiding and abetting extortion, a federal offense that carries a penalty of up to 20 years in jail. The scheme pertained to an unnamed person who demanded nearly $1 million from city counsel in exchange for burying information that would reveal the city’s collusive litigation strategy to cover up the Department of Water and Power’s faulty billing system.
During the December 1, 2017 meeting, Peters admitted that he met with “senior members” of the City Attorney’s Office and updated them on the status of a threat only named by prosecutors as “Person A.” KNBC's new evidence points to Feuer as one of those senior members.
Peters conveyed that “Person A” was a former longtime employee of Paul Kiesel, whom the city hired to litigate the DWP billing fiasco alongside Paul Paradis. Kiesel described “Person A’s” threats as “extortion” and Peters was "directed to take care of the situation” by a higher up, according to the plea agreement. The payment was made.
Paradis in a recent ethics complaint with the State Bar of California said Feuer lied when he said he didn’t know about the scheme.
According to Paradis, Feuer knew about the payment demand and was “extremely unhappy,” and unless city co-counsel Kiesel and Paradis “cleaned up” the situation, they would be fired. Paradis, via Peters, said Feuer and his deputies “could not tolerate the fact of the collusive settlement in the Jones v. City of Los Angeles class action becoming public,” according to the complaint.
Paradis also produced a text message following the December 1, 2017 meeting between him and Peters.
“Mike is not firing anyone at this point. But he is far from happy about the prospect of a sideshow,” Peters wrote. A screenshot of the text is attached to an Ardent bankruptcy filing.
Feuer’s denials contradicts a body of heavy circumstantial evidence showing that he knew about the DWP billing litigation, in which the city manufactured a fake lawsuit in order to deflect bad attention away from DWP. Part of the strategy involved installing an attorney for customers who filed a dummy, city-drafted complaint.
During his deposition related to the litigation, Feuer said “I do not recall” over 60 times. According to emails from his deputy, Feuer signed off on the original plan to get other attorneys to drop their suits against the city.
The DWP scandal has so far ensnared four figures within DWP and the city attorney’s office, who will plead guilty to charges of bribery, making false statements, and extortion. It’s estimated the corruption will cost taxpayers at least $200 million.
Peters is scheduled to make his plea in federal court today.
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