Supervisor Kuehl investigation: Court documents reveal she was tipped off before raid

New details continue to emerge in the investigation involving Los Angeles County Supervisor Shelia Kuehl amid a corruption probe.

On Friday, FOX 11 obtained court documents that allege Supervisor Kuehl was tipped off by her staff prior to her Santa Monica home being raided on Sept. 14.

In the documents, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department lead investigator Sgt. Max Fernandez shares the content of text messages that were exchanged between Kuehl and her staff before the raid.

Fernandez states in the documents the investigation began on Sept. 11, 2019, when a whistleblower from the MTA reported illegal conduct to the LASD.

RELATED: LA Metro hotline costing taxpayers thousands per call; whistleblower alleges cronyism

Fernandez goes on to cite an exclusive on-camera interview with FOX 11 that Kuehl gave while her home was in the process of being searched.

"Supervisor Kuehl gave a live television interview to Fox 11 News, in which she said the following: ‘KUEHL: I heard from County Counsel last night that she got a tip from Max that this search would happen?

REPORTER: Max Huntsman?

KUEHL: Yes, from Max Huntsman that this search would happen this morning.'"

The report goes on to say that "tipping off a target of a search warrant prior to the execution of the warrant is a crime" citing penal code section 148 that "prohibits obstruction officers in the execution of their duties including serving search warrants" and penal code 168 which "prohibits public officials (prosecutors, judges, clerks or peace officers) from disclosing the fact that a search warrant has been issued, prior to. Its execution, for the purpose of preventing the search of seizure of property."


"The fact that Supervisor Kuehl publicity stated she had been tipped off the night before was a serious concern for me and for the LASD," Fernandez wrote. "At a minimum, whoever told Max Huntsman about his warrant committed a crime."

The probe against Kuehl focuses on allegations that she helped steer a series of no-bid Metro contracts to the nonprofit Peace Over Violence, which is run by Patti Giggans, a longtime close friend of Kuehl.

Kuehl has denied any involvement in the awarding of contracts to operate a sex-harassment hotline for transit riders and employees, saying she was unaware of them and did not vote on them as a member of the Metro Board of Directors. The contracts totaled more than $800,000.

Amid the investigation, LASD also served a search warrant at Giggans home. They also searched their offices, along with offices at Metro and the Metro Office of Inspector General.

While searching Giggans home, her phone was not in the house or on her, and investigators said they know she has an iPhone.

"I concluded that the most likely explanation for the absence of her phone was that she was aware that warrant was going to be executed and she disposed of the phone in some manner beforehand," Fernandez wrote.

According to the new report, on the night of Sept. 13, Lisa Mandal, Supervisor Kuehl’s Chief of Staff texted Kuehl with a text that read:

"Just got a call from Dawyn Harrison. She has been informed that the Sheriff may [have] obtained a search warrant for your phone and Patti G’s… Per the informant, the warrant is for 7 a.m. tomorrow. Let me know if you want me to do anything."

At 11:41, Harrison texted Supervisor Kuehl a text that said in part:

"Was the first my team heard of it. Max called CoCo tonight with his ‘intel.’"

In the documents, Fernandez wrote, "I know from personal experience and from my training that ‘CoCo’ refers to County Counsel."

The report states there are at least 25 messages related to the text messages and two voicemails from Harrison from Sept. 13.

The state Attorney General's Office announced Tuesday it was taking over the investigation following a plea made by Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva. Some critics have assailed the unit as targeting political opponents of Villanueva, who has denied the allegation.

CNS contributed to this report.