FBI raids Palm Springs City Hall in corruption case
PALM SPRINGS, Calif (FOX 11 / AP) - The FBI and local agents raided Palm Springs City Hall and went to the mayor's home on Tuesday as part of a corruption probe, authorities said.
A dozen agents with the FBI and the Riverside County district attorney's office executed search warrants at City Hall, shutting down the building and sending the employees home, the Palm Springs Desert Sun newspaper reported.
City Attorney Douglas Holland said staff were cooperating with the agents, but he declined to comment further, the newspaper reported.
Authorities also knocked on the door of an apartment listed as a home address by Mayor Steve Pougnet - who also lives part of the year in Colorado - but nobody answered, the Sun reported.
"I am happy to cooperate with the inquiry going on at City Hall, just as I have always been fully cooperative and open in all of my many years as an elected official in Palm Springs," the mayor said in a statement. "I have complete confidence that our City Council, city manager, city attorney and city staff will do everything they can to cooperate by ensuring that this process will be as swift and as thorough as possible."
FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said the search warrants are sealed and she couldn't comment on their nature. But she said they were part of an effort involving a public corruption task force.
The Sun has published articles detailing the more than $200,000 in consulting work that Pougnet did for a company owned by a developer, Richard Meaney, at a time when the firm's business license had been suspended.
In December, Pougnet voted to sell city-owned land to Meaney and his partner for under $200,000, not long after purchasing an adjacent lot from a private owner for $1 million, the Sun reported.
The City Council later voted to rescind the deal, and the California Fair Political Practices Commission is investigating Pougnet's vote.
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