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Tue, Jan

DWP Bribery Scandal: Who’s Next?

LA WATCHDOG - Now that David Wright, the former General Manager of the Department of Water and Power who was summarily fired in July of 2019, has agreed to plead guilty to bribery in connection with DWP awarding in 2017 a $30 million no-bid contract to a newly formed company controlled by New York City lawyer Paul Paradis, many are wondering who will be the next target(s) of the United States Attorney’s Office? 

In his role a General Manager, Wright failed to inform the DWP Board of Commissioners that he had a side deal with Paradis where he would be hired by the new company for $1 million a year after he retired from the Department in 2019 at which time, he would be vested in the DWP’s pension plan. 

Paradis, who has also agreed to plead guilty to bribery for accepting an illegal kickback of $2.2 million from a class action lawyer who was suing his client, the Department of Water and Power, admitted that he was in cahoots with Wright in orchestrating the approval of the no-bid contract. 

As part of his plea deal, Wright admitted that he “participated in several other corrupt schemes while the head of LADWP.”  Wright also “enlisted the help of LADWP employees, including other senior executives, to support the no-bid contract.” 

[Note: I have followed DWP for over 15 years and believe that its employees are honest, hard-working men and women who bust their chops to keep the lights on and the water running.  They also have great pride in their organization.  Yes, there may be a few bad apples, but that is true of any enterprise with over 10,000 employees.] 

Paradis is also “cooperating with the ongoing investigation into the collusive litigation and corruption at LADWP.”  Interestingly, Paradis began cooperating with the FBI in late March of 2019, unbeknownst to Wright, and prior to the July raids by the FBI on the DWP headquarters and the City Attorney’s office.  

The ongoing federal criminal will reach into the managerial ranks of the Department of Water and Power.  And who knows what schemes will be uncovered and who will be targeted. 

The federal investigation will also extend to the office of the City Attorney in an attempt to determine how and why New York City attorney Paradis was even retained by the City in connection with the class action litigation involving the botched rollout of the DWP’s new customer information system, the “white knight” strategy of picking a class action lawyer that would be receptive to overtures from the City Attorney’s office, and the ill-advised decision to sue PricewaterhouseCoopers, DWP’s consultant for the customer information system. 

What will this criminal investigation by the FBI uncover?  Who will be targeted or have their careers ruined?  Stay tuned. 

 

 (Jack Humphreville writes LA Watchdog for CityWatch. He is the President of the DWP Advocacy Committee and is the Budget and DWP representative for the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council. He is a Neighborhood Council Budget Advocate. He can be reached at:  [email protected])