Previous DWP board member ‘acted honorably,’ lawyer claims

An legal professional for a previous Los Angeles Division of Water and Energy board member linked to an alleged bribery plan defended his consumer Tuesday.

Monthly bill Funderburk, the former board member, “always acted honorably in his legislation practice and in the best passions of the metropolis and the DWP,” claimed his legal professional, Jan Handzlik.

Prosecutors alleged this week that best officers at the DWP agreed to consider bribes in exchange for their vote on a $30-million contract. The agreement was specified to a company owned by attorney Paul Paradis, who was functioning for Town Atty. Mike Feuer’s business on litigation stemming from a defective DWP billing method.

Paradis agreed to plead guilty to 1 depend of bribery and is cooperating with the ongoing federal criminal investigation, prosecutors explained.

In accordance to the plea agreement, Paradis recognized a virtually $2.2-million kickback from another legal professional. He also bribed a DWP normal manager with a $1-million salary supply for promised long run employment and did unrelated legal work at the ask for of the DWP board member.

Neither the typical manager nor the board member are named in the plea settlement, but the specifics in the court docket doc make obvious that the supervisor is David Wright, who remaining the DWP in 2019. He hasn’t responded to requests for remark from The Moments.

Funderburk, an attorney who stepped down from the board in 2018, referred thoughts from The Times about the unnamed board member to his attorney.

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

In accordance to the plea agreement, the unnamed board member solicited unpaid authorized services and aid from Paradis in advance of the vote on the $30-million contract, prior to ultimately supporting the settlement.

The board member encountered Paradis in the hallway at the DWP shortly just before he entered the board conference space in advance of the deal vote on June 6, 2017, in accordance to the plea agreement.

The board member expressed appreciation for Paradis’ aid on the unrelated authorized subject and mentioned words and phrases to the influence of, “You choose care of me, I acquire care of you,” according to the plea agreement.

Paradis comprehended this to suggest that the board member would vote in favor of the $30-million, no-bid contract if he ongoing to provide the board member with “unpaid legal products and services and assistance” in accordance to the plea arrangement.

Paradis and his legislation partner continued to conduct authorized work for the board member until eventually early August 2017 collectively they done close to 36 hours of lawful perform, which Paradis valued at around $30,000 based on their respective billing costs, according to the plea agreement.

“Contrary to Paradis’ self-serving allegations, Invoice in no way sought or acquired particular lawful services from him,” Handzlik, Funderburk’s legal professional, said Tuesday. “Rather, to stay clear of obtaining to charge one particular of his own law consumers for planning motions, Invoice requested Paradis for copies of related motions he had submitted in one more case.

“Paradis was then a respected and dependable outside the house lawyer for DWP. By redrafting and making use of these motions, Bill got no monetary profit and in simple fact was able to conserve his consumer money.

“Paradis now admits that, via fraud and deceit, he bought around $2 million in kickbacks and was caught striving choose a further $30 million, all from his have client’s cash,” Handzlik said. “All of this was concealed from Invoice and the DWP.”

No prices have been filed versus Wright or Funderburk.

The accusations are the most current to rock the DWP, an agency exactly where substantial-profile missteps or public battles among its impressive union and regional politicians often overshadow the work the utility does to deliver drinking water and electricity to metropolis people.

Continue to, alleged corruption is yet another matter entirely — and some longtime DWP critics said Tuesday they were being taken aback by the brazen functions outlined by prosecutors.

“I’m stunned at the sheer transactional character of the bribes,” stated Jamie Courtroom, president of Client Watchdog. “This is pure graft.”

Stuart Waldman, president of the Valley Marketplace and Commerce Assn., claimed the allegations involving Wright “were plainly self-working.” “Even my 8-yr-old knows what self-working is,” Waldman said.

The basic manager and board associates are appointed by Mayor Eric Garcetti. Questioned Tuesday about the allegations, Garcetti mentioned Paradis “needs to fork out the price tag.”

“The normal supervisor that I asked to depart plainly has difficulties if the accusations in the press launch are suitable,” Garcetti mentioned. “Anybody who serves the town or does business with us and broke the legislation much better be prepared to spend the selling price.”

Right after the FBI raided DWP headquarters in July 2019, hunting for details relevant to contracts and other difficulties, Garcetti announced two months later that he would make an inspector normal business office at the DWP to evaluation contracting issues, whistleblower grievances, ethics and other inside procedures.

The office has but to start.

Garcetti spokesman Harrison Wollman stated Monday the pandemic compelled some departments to pause some systems and rather focus on serving to people influenced by the crisis.

”We have resumed progress and will have an announcement on the system ahead of the stop of this yr,” Wollman mentioned.

Periods staff author Sam Dean contributed to this report.

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