Los Angeles, CA – Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva issued a formal request to the state’s attorney general to open an investigation into allegations the Los Angeles County Civilian Oversight commissioner and county supervisor were tipped off that deputies would be serving search warrants at their homes on Wednesday.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LACSD) said the warrants were issued as part of “an ongoing public corruption investigation,” KTTV reported.
LACSD investigators and federal law enforcement officers executed the search warrant at Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl’s home at approximately 7 a.m. on Sept. 14.
Additional search warrants were served at the home of Los Angeles County Civilian Oversight Commissioner Patricia “Patti” Giggans, as well as Los Angeles Metro Headquarters, the Peace Over Violence Headquarters, and the Los Angeles Hall of Administration, KTTV reported.
According to a redacted copy of the affidavit that resulted in the warrants being issued, the investigation involved “an allegation of criminal conduct” allegedly committed by Kuehl in connection with three “sole source contracts awarded to a nonprofit organization operating under the name Peace Over Violence,” KTTV reported.
Giggans is the executive director of Peace Over Violence.
Kuehl is a member of the Peace Over Violence advisory board, was responsible for appointing Giggans to the Civilian Oversight Commission, officiated Giggans’ wedding 19 years ago, and has allegedly been friends with Giggans for decades.
Breaking: Sheriff’s deputies are taking boxes from Civilian Oversight Commissioner Patty Giggin’s Los Angeles home, part of a sprawling investigation that includes Metro and Supervisor Sheila Kuehl. The COC has held a series of investigative hearings into alleged gangs in LASD. pic.twitter.com/XD16NYDgeO
— Kate Cagle (@KateCagle) September 14, 2022
The series of contracts awarded to the nonprofit between 2014 and 2020 totaled more than $800,000 and were to be used to establish and operate a hotline for public transit users to report instances of sexual harassment, the Los Angeles Times reported.
According to court documents, the contract was extended without analysis or a competitive bid, even though the hotline ended up being a “complete failure,” the Los Angeles Times reported.
The nonprofit’s operation of the hotline was estimated to have cost taxpayers more than $8,000 per phone call while it was in operation, according to KTTV.
Former Metro project manager Jennifer Loew came forward as a whistleblower and alleged that Kuehl helped to steer the no-bid contracts to her friend, Giggans, via the Peace Over Violence organization.
As the raid was taking place inside her house on Wednesday, Kuehl told a KTTV reporter that Los Angeles County Inspector General Max Huntsman and a female attorney who represents Los Angeles County told her about the warrant on Tuesday night.
Huntsman is also the head of the Board of Supervisors Oversight Department.
The attorney Kuehl mentioned was not specifically named.
Sheriff’s investigators are serving a warrant at the home of Supervisor Sheila Kuehl pic.twitter.com/qcWSICz4wu
— Alene Tchekmedyian (@AleneTchek) September 14, 2022
Kuehl said she did nothing wrong and that the raid was a “thuggish” intimidation attempt, FOX News reported.
She further described the case as a “bogus non-investigation” and said she had “no knowledge of the no-bid contract,” KTTV reported.
“I think the sheriff’s department going along with this Metro employee indicates the sheriff’s department is complicit in this,” Kuehl told reporters. “Alex [Villanueva] I’m told recused himself from this… if he doesn’t know about it, that means there’s a rogue element within the sheriff’s department and either way it’s totally out of control.”
BREAKING! The L.A. County Sheriff’s Department serving warrants in multiple locations in the criminal case involving Sheila Kuehl , Patti Giggans, & Phil Washington currently in nomination process by Joe Biden for head of FAA.
This is a developing story pic.twitter.com/HyvLMOSMke
— Airiel Hicks (@AirielHicks) September 15, 2022
Sheriff Villanueva fired off a letter to California Attorney General Rob Bonta after Wednesday’s raids asking him to open an investigation into Giggans and Kuehl allegedly being tipped off about the search warrants.
“When the search warrant was served on the residence of Patricia ‘Patti’ Giggans, the detectives were met at the door by Ms. Giggans and her attorney,” the sheriff’s letter to Bonta read. “It was obvious both were already aware of the search warrant and were waiting for detectives to arrive.”
Sheriff Villanueva noted that Kuehl told reporters during “an impromptu press conference” that he had been “informed” about the warrant by Huntsman the night prior.
“She also stated she was told about the search warrant the night before by a female employed by Los Angeles County Counsel…who represents both myself as Los Angeles County Sheriff and the Board of Supervisors concurrently as legal counsel,” he added.
NEW: L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva is asking the CA Attorney General to open an investigation into Supervisor Sheila Kuehl being tipped off that a search warrant was going to be served at her home. Kuehl admitted live on @FOXLA she got a heads up from L.A. County officials. pic.twitter.com/NXix0WhnxI
— Bill Melugin (@BillFOXLA) September 14, 2022
Sheriff Villanueva asked Bonta to open an investigation into allegations of interfering with a criminal investigation.
“The illegal acts committed by Mr. Huntsman and County Counsel have potentially compromised the integrity of this criminal investigation including, but not limited to, the concealment or destruction of evidence,” Sheriff Villanueva said.
“I do not have to explain the alleged criminal, administrative, and ethical laws which were broken by Mr. Huntsman and the currently unidentified person(s) employed by County Counsel,” he wrote. “We are confident phone records will soon reveal any text messages received by Ms. Kuehl and Ms. Giggans, which illegally alerted them to the search warrant, as well as the intent behind their actions.”
Critics alleged the search was politically motivated and have accused Sheriff Villanueva of using the LACSD’s Public Corruption Unit to target those who disagree with him, KTTV reported.
“I have a deep fear that locally we are seeing exactly what we saw nationally under the Trump Administration: politically motivated actions and attacks towards critics and dissenters of the Sheriff,” West Hollywood City Councilmember Lindsey Horvath said.
Los Angeles Councilmember Mike Bonin also threw his support behind Kuehl, calling her “a public official of the highest integrity.”
“This is a bogus, vindictive, politically motivated witch hunt by a corrupt sheriff with a track record of abusing his power and trying to silence and intimidate his critics,” Bonin declared in a statement released on Wednesday.
He further accused Sheriff Villanueva of running “a department notorious for violence, scandal, and civil rights violations.”
“He is scared of civilian oversight, defies civilian oversight, and is abusing his power to get revenge on those who exercise civilian oversight,” Bonin added.
A corrupt sheriff with a track record of abusing his power and trying to silence and intimidate his critics is conducting a bogus, vindictive, politically motivated witch hunt against @SheilaKuehl, a public official of the highest integrity
— Mike Bonin (@mikebonin) September 14, 2022
Huntsman denied allegations that he was involved in alerting Kuehl about the impending search warrant.
“The phone records will show whether I tipped them off or not,” he told the Los Angeles Times. “I didn’t.”
Giggans said police seized her nonprofit’s server during the search and that she consequently does not know how the organization will be able to function.
“The server is, you know, all communication,” she told the Los Angeles Times.
She described the officers as “bullies” and vowed that the situation was “a lawsuit in the making.”
Austin Dove, the attorney representing Giggans, said the raids exemplified “Third World Tactics.”
“Vladimir Putin would be impressed,” he told the Los Angeles Times.