Homes of LA County officials searched as part of 'corruption investigation,' LASD says

Thursday, September 15, 2022
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A search warrant was served at the Santa Monica home of Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl.

SANTA MONICA, Calif. (KABC) -- A search warrant was served at the homes of Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl and other county officials in connection to an "ongoing public corruption investigation," the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department announced.

According to LASD, the homes of Kuehl and Patricia "Patti" Giggans, who sits on the L.A. County Civilian Oversight Commission that oversees the sheriff's department, were searched Wednesday morning.

The search warrant, signed by Judge Craig Richman, who reportedly has close ties to LASD's Public Corruption Unit, doesn't explicitly state what investigators are looking for. The warrant doesn't require that information.

This reportedly stems from a dispute over a contract several years ago involving a Metro sexual harassment hotline. Peace Over Violence, the nonprofit organization in charge of running it, is led by Giggans, who is close friends with Kuehl.

There are allegations that there was a conflict of interest in awarding the contract and how the hotline was run. Kuehl denies those claims, including whether she was aware of an investigation to begin with.

"Everybody's going to say, 'Well she must've done something or they wouldn't have come to her house. No," Kuehl said in front of her Santa Monica home as deputies continued their search. "This is all about a contract, which I had nothing to do with, and there's no ongoing investigation. The sheriff should have better control of his department."

Kuehl described the search as a politically motivated act by the sheriff, who is often critical of the Board of Supervisors.

"The basis of this search was questionable and will be investigated," Kuehl wrote in a series of tweets. "This morning's storming of my home by deputies with bulletproof vests & tactical gear was an effort to harass, intimidate & retaliate against a public figure who has been an outspoken critic of Alex Villanueva."

The supervisor, who represents L.A. County's 3rd District, said deputies took some electronic devices among other items. Giggans, who also denies any wrongdoing, had her vehicle taken during Wednesday morning's search at her home.

Exclusive video obtained by Eyewitness News from inside Giggans' home shows deputies rifling through papers as they go through the home.

"It's clearly a bullying tactic now, designed to intimidate Patti to prevent her from, I suppose, making any critical comments about the sheriff," Giggan's attorney Austin Dove said.

In addition, deputies searched the L.A. County Hall of Administration, the Peace Over Violence headquarters and Metro headquarters.

"The investigation has been shared with a federal agency and they continue to monitor," LASD said in a statement. "This remains an active investigation and we are unable to comment further at this time, although in full transparency the search warrant has been posted online at LASD.org."

Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón said later Wednesday that his office did not review the warrant ahead of time in court and "we do not intend to defend it if challenged in court."

Gascón said the sheriff's department first brought the Kuehl allegation to his office in September 2021.

"We reviewed the case and determined that the state of the evidence at that time did not prove criminal conduct beyond a reasonable doubt."

He said sheriff's department officials indicated they would continue to investigate and did not have any additional contact with his office since then, including about the plans to serve the search warrant.

Sheriff Alex Villanueva has not personally issued a formal statement regarding the search warrants.