An attorney who's admitted to a federal bribery charge for his role in the ongoing Los Angeles Department of Water and Power corruption investigation has asked a bankruptcy judge in Arizona for permission to take a deposition of LA City Attorney Mike Feuer.
Paul O. Paradis, who entered a guilty plea in Los Angeles in January in the bribery case, made the request under a court rule that could allow Feuer's sworn testimony, and the discovery of a variety of records, to take place before it would typically be allowed in pretrial proceedings.
The judge Tuesday denied the special request, but said Feuer's testimony and documents would likely be relevant and part of regular discovery that takes place in the bankruptcy proceedings.
Paradis filed for bankruptcy and the City of Los Angeles filed a related lawsuit seeking to recover millions of dollars paid to Paradis through an allegedly corrupt contract.
Paradis' attorney, Alan Meda, told the court Tuesday that he and his client requested the special discovery procedure because they're focused on learning more about a Dec. 1, 2017 meeting, at which officials in the City Attorney's Office allegedly discussed how to cover up legal misconduct in the handling of the lawsuits that stemmed from the LA DWP's excessive billing debacle.
"This meeting of Dec. 1, 2017, this is the meeting that Mr. Feuer was at," Meda said during a telephonic hearing.
"First [Feuer] denied knowing anything about it, then, when his calendar confirmed that he was at the meeting, he then denied, denies remembering anything about it," Meda said.
Get Los Angeles's latest local news on crime, entertainment, weather, schools, COVID, cost of living and more. Here's your go-to source for today's LA news.
The I-Team reported Monday that Feuer's calendar shows he was scheduled to attend that Dec. 1, 2017 meeting, but Feuer's office says the City Attorney does not remember the meeting and denies knowing anything at the time about misconduct or criminal activity.
"The City Attorney has no specific recollection of that meeting--more than four years ago--but certainly was not informed at that time, or any time, of any criminal malfeasance," said Rob Wilcox, Feuer's director of community engagement and outreach and his spokesman.
"When the City Attorney first became aware, in 2019, that outside lawyers had assisted opposing counsel to sue the City, he immediately made that evidence public," Wilcox said.
Paradis' attorney told the bankruptcy judge Tuesday that he believes Feuer was involved in the, "collusive litigation scheme that resulted in the Jones settlement."
"Jones" refers to a lawsuit titled Antwon Jones vs. City of Los Angeles, which was confirmed in a court investigation last year to have been a, "sham lawsuit," in which the City attempted to control the terms of a massive legal settlement with DWP customers who had been overbilled.
"We are very concerned about these documents being destroyed, concerned about the disappearance of these documents," Meda told the judge about why there was urgency to his request.
An attorney representing the City of Los Angeles in the bankruptcy proceedings characterized Paradis' request as 'unsubstantiated allegations from an admitted felon,' and said Paradis' and his attorney were, "just throwing mud," to create a distraction from the underlying lawsuit.
"They're trying to conduct a fishing expedition, rather than abide by the rules of procedure," said attorney Michael Jones.
Meda said the exploration of the City's records and Feuer's testimony related to the December 1, 2017 meeting was relevant because it could show the City has a conflict of interest in the legal case it's brought against Paradis.
Another participant in that Dec. 1, 2017 meeting, former top City Attorney's Office lawyer Thomas Peters, pleaded guilty in Los Angeles Tuesday to a federal extortion charge.
Paradis' pleaded guilty to a bribery charge for accepting a $2.2-million kickback for recruiting another lawyer to file the so-called "sham lawsuit" against the DWP.