Previous DWP board member ‘acted honorably,’ attorney suggests

An lawyer for a previous Los Angeles Department of Water and Electric power board member connected to an alleged bribery plan defended his consumer Tuesday.

Monthly bill Funderburk, the former board member, “always acted honorably in his law follow and in the very best interests of the metropolis and the DWP,” said his legal professional, Jan Handzlik.

Prosecutors alleged this week that leading officials at the DWP agreed to choose bribes in exchange for their vote on a $30-million deal. The contract was given to a enterprise owned by legal professional Paul Paradis, who was functioning for City Atty. Mike Feuer’s office environment on litigation stemming from a defective DWP billing method.

Paradis agreed to plead guilty to one count of bribery and is cooperating with the ongoing federal legal investigation, prosecutors explained.

In accordance to the plea agreement, Paradis recognized a almost $2.2-million kickback from a different lawyer. He also bribed a DWP typical supervisor with a $1-million salary provide for promised long term work and did unrelated lawful do the job at the request of the DWP board member.

Neither the typical manager nor the board member are named in the plea agreement, but the information in the court document make clear that the supervisor is David Wright, who still left the DWP in 2019. He hasn’t responded to requests for remark from The Situations.

Funderburk, an legal professional who stepped down from the board in 2018, referred concerns from The Instances about the unnamed board member to his legal professional.

The unnamed board member is male, in accordance to the plea arrangement. The only other male member of the board at that time, Mel Levine, declined to remark to The Situations.

In accordance to the plea settlement, the unnamed board member solicited unpaid lawful companies and support from Paradis forward of the vote on the $30-million contract, ahead of finally supporting the settlement.

The board member encountered Paradis in the hallway at the DWP soon prior to he entered the board meeting area ahead of the contract vote on June 6, 2017, according to the plea settlement.

The board member expressed appreciation for Paradis’ help on the unrelated lawful issue and reported terms to the influence of, “You consider treatment of me, I consider care of you,” according to the plea settlement.

Paradis understood this to signify that the board member would vote in favor of the $30-million, no-bid contract if he ongoing to give the board member with “unpaid lawful solutions and assistance” according to the plea settlement.

Paradis and his regulation husband or wife ongoing to complete lawful function for the board member until finally early August 2017 collectively they executed about 36 hrs of lawful get the job done, which Paradis valued at more than $30,000 centered on their respective billing costs, in accordance to the plea arrangement.

“Contrary to Paradis’ self-serving allegations, Monthly bill under no circumstances sought or been given individual authorized expert services from him,” Handzlik, Funderburk’s lawyer, mentioned Tuesday. “Rather, to stay away from getting to charge a person of his have regulation purchasers for planning motions, Bill asked Paradis for copies of identical motions he experienced filed in one more scenario.

“Paradis was then a highly regarded and trustworthy outdoors law firm for DWP. By redrafting and utilizing these motions, Monthly bill bought no money advantage and in fact was able to preserve his consumer cash.

“Paradis now admits that, by means of fraud and deceit, he bought over $2 million in kickbacks and was caught striving just take one more $30 million, all from his possess client’s cash,” Handzlik claimed. “All of this was concealed from Bill and the DWP.”

No rates have been filed from Wright or Funderburk.

The accusations are the most recent to rock the DWP, an agency the place superior-profile missteps or public battles involving its powerful union and community politicians consistently overshadow the function the utility does to produce h2o and electric power to city inhabitants.

Nevertheless, alleged corruption is another matter altogether — and some longtime DWP critics stated Tuesday they were taken aback by the brazen acts outlined by prosecutors.

“I’m stunned at the sheer transactional nature of the bribes,” explained Jamie Court docket, president of Customer Watchdog. “This is pure graft.”

Stuart Waldman, president of the Valley Market and Commerce Assn., claimed the allegations involving Wright “were plainly self-dealing.” “Even my 8-12 months-previous understands what self-dealing is,” Waldman explained.

The basic supervisor and board associates are appointed by Mayor Eric Garcetti. Questioned Tuesday about the allegations, Garcetti explained Paradis “needs to pay the price.”

“The standard manager that I asked to depart clearly has challenges if the accusations in the press release are correct,” Garcetti said. “Anybody who serves the town or does company with us and broke the regulation greater be ready to spend the cost.”

Right after the FBI raided DWP headquarters in July 2019, seeking for facts associated to contracts and other concerns, Garcetti announced two months later on that he would produce an inspector common business office at the DWP to critique contracting issues, whistleblower complaints, ethics and other inner policies.

The workplace has yet to start.

Garcetti spokesman Harrison Wollman explained Monday the pandemic compelled some departments to pause some applications and in its place aim on serving to all those influenced by the crisis.

”We have resumed progress and will have an announcement on the procedure in advance of the end of this calendar year,” Wollman claimed.

Occasions team writer Sam Dean contributed to this report.

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