FBI alleges former LA City Attorney Mike Feuer lied during probe of DWP scandal

Court documents released this week allege former Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer lied to investigators probing the city's handling of litigation filed over the botched rollout of a Department of Water and Power billing system that led to many customers being wildly overcharged.

"Multiple sources of evidence provide probable cause to believe that Feuer obstructed justice (and) made materially misleading statements to the FBI," FBI Special Agent Andrew Civetti wrote in a January 2020 affidavit cited Thursday by the Los Angeles Times and Consumer Watchdog.

According to Consumer Watchdog, the affidavit is among hundreds of pages of documents unsealed pursuant to requests by the organization and The Times in February. A federal judge in April issued a final order authorizing the release of the documents.

Despite the contentions in some of the paperwork, Feuer was never charged with a crime. In a statement to The Times this week, Feuer denied that he was aware of any collusion in the handling of the litigation over the flawed billing system.

"I cooperated fully with the U.S. Attorney's staff and am glad they ultimately obtained all the actual facts," Feuer said. "After they did, and assessed each witness' credibility, they prosecuted the wrongdoers and stated there was no ongoing investigation into me."

Feuer, a former Assemblyman and City Council member, ran briefly for mayor of Los Angeles and ran unsuccessfully for the congressional seat being vacated by Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Burbank.


As a result of the U.S. Attorney's Office probe into the DWP billing scandal, which ended in November, a former high-level adviser to Feuer, an outside attorney hired by Feuer's office, and two top DWP officials pleaded guilty to federal bribery and extortion charges.

The case stemmed from 2013, when the DWP implemented a billing system it had procured from outside vendor PricewaterhouseCoopers. After the utility rolled out the new system, hundreds of thousands of ratepayers received massively inflated and otherwise inaccurate bills. Soon afterward, the city and DWP faced multiple class-action lawsuits filed by ratepayers alleging harm resulting from the faulty system.

In December 2014, the Los Angeles City Attorney's Office retained New York lawyer Paul Paradis as special counsel to represent the city in a lawsuit against PwC. When Paradis began representing the city in that litigation, the City Attorney's Office was aware that he was simultaneously representing Antwon Jones, a ratepayer who had a claim against the DWP arising from billing overcharges. Jones was unaware that his lawyer, Paradis -- who was playing both sides of the fence -- also represented his intended adversary.

Shortly afterward, Paradis recruited an Ohio lawyer to nominally represent Jones in the collusive lawsuit with the understanding that Paradis would do virtually all the work. In exchange, and unknown to the city, Paradis and the Ohio lawyer agreed that Paradis would receive 20% of the Ohio lawyer's fees in the Jones v. City case as a secret kickback.

In July 2017, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge issued final approval of the $67 million settlement agreed to by the parties in Jones v. City, including roughly $19 million in plaintiffs' attorney fees, of which the Ohio lawyer and his law firm obtained $10.3 million. The Ohio lawyer then secretly paid $2.17 million to Paradis, disguising the kickback as a real estate investment, and funneling it through shell companies that Paradis and the Ohio lawyer had set up exclusively for the purpose of transmitting and concealing the illicit payment, prosecutors said.

David Wright, the former general manager of the DWP, was sentenced in 2022 to six years in federal prison for bribery. Thomas Peters, a former senior official at the City Attorney's Office, was sentenced in May 2023 to nine months of home detention for taking part in an extortion scheme tied to the billing debacle. David Alexander, the utility's former chief information security officer and its former chief cyber risk officer, was sentenced in 2022 to 48 months in federal prison for lying to the FBI about a secret business relationship with Paradis. Paradis was sentenced last year to nearly three years in prison for accepting the nearly $2.2 million kickback.

According to government documents cited earlier by Consumer Watchdog, following the original collusive litigation settlement, an employee of Beverly Hills lawyer Paul Kiesel -- who had been retained by Feuer to represent the city -- threatened to expose the city's misconduct unless she was paid off, and unnamed "senior members of the City Attorney's Office" directed the extortion payment to be made in the amount of $800,000.

Feuer has long denied knowledge of the collusion over the litigation or the alleged hush money demand by Kiesel's legal assistant. But according to Civetti's 2020 affidavit, Feuer was aware of the demand and "impliedly directed" one of his deputies to deal with her demand, The Times reported.

Civetti also alleged in the document that Feuer gave misleading answers to questions about the actions of his office, and offered a "narrative of apparent obfuscation, false and misleading statements and omissions."

"The government documents show that Feuer lied early and lied often," Consumer Watchdog Litigation Director Jerry Flanagan said in a statement Thursday. "The government documents paint a disturbing picture of Feuer conspiring to obstruct justice and ordering an extortion payment to cover up illegal and unethical activity in order to protect his political career. The only question now is: why hasn't he been disbarred and why isn't he in jail?"

Ciaran McEvoy, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Los Angeles, declined to comment on the newly unsealed documents, but confirmed that the office's DWP probe was closed.

"We cannot comment on charging decisions in individual cases," McEvoy said in a statement. "However, our office has a strong history -- especially in recent years -- of charging, prosecuting, and convicting officials who break the public trust and violate federal law. As we have stated before, where the evidence did not establish every element of a federal crime beyond a reasonable doubt, we have not pursued charges."