Warrants Served at Home, Business of Malibu Mayor Pro Tem

District Attorney's investigators served search warrants at Malibu Mayor Pro Tem Jefferson Wagner's house in the hills above the city Thursday, and at his central Malibu surf shop.

KBUU radio reported from the scene that investigators declined to divulge the nature of the probe, but Wagner has faced questions about his eligibility to serve on the city council, since the house -- despite having a Malibu zip code -- is outside the city limits, in an unincorporated area of Los Angeles County.

Outside the house, Wagner himself told NBC4 he thought the issue involved "residency."

During the 2016 Malibu City Council election, Wagner said he bought a condominium within city limits and would be living there for the four years of his term, KBUU reported. During his election campaign, he assured voters that he was within the letter of the law by buying the condo and using it as his official residence.

A neighbor in the condominium across the hallway from Wagner's said he has seen Wagner in the building, and expressed surprise at word of the search warrant.

"He's been such a huge part of the city for so many years," said John Johannessen. "It makes no sense at all."

Wagner was inside the home in the 26900 block of Old Chimney Drive when investigators arrived to serve the warrant Thursday morning. "They are being very amenable. They let me fix breakfast," Wagner told KBUU.

Wagner said investigators had come to the house previously, but at the time he was instead at his condo.

KBUU counted six investigators searching the home on a mountainside above Escondido Canyon, and reported that several cargo vehicles owned by Wagner were also inventoried.

Investigators told KBUU they were also serving a warrant at Wagner's business, Zuma Jay's Surf Shop in central Malibu.

Wagner is in his second term on the Malibu City Council, elected most recently in the fall of 2016, and at times has been a contrarian voice in opposition to the other four members, and a critic of the city's planning department.

The Local Malibu website, published by CeCe Woods, has portrayed Wagner as a victim of "political harrassment."

After investigators left the house, Wagner said they took only his cellphone and called the search "a real sad use of the public's funds when you have twelve guys here for five hours, and nothing is achieved."

In response to inquiries, the District Attorney's office confirmed searches at locations both in and outside the city of Malibu, but declined to comment on the nature of the probe or what was learned.

Elsewhere in Los Angeles County, previous allegations that certain officials lived outside the districts they were elected to serve have resulted in prosecutions. In 2014, after being sentenced to jail, legislator Roderick Wright agreed to leave his seat in the California State Senate.  That same year, in a separate case, former Los Angeles City Councilman Richard Alarcon was convicted of voter fraud and perjury, but two years later, his convictions were overturned on appeal.

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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