Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department conducted an early morning raid on Democratic County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl’s home on Wednesday.
The raid was reportedly connected to a criminal investigation into a county contract that was awarded to a nonprofit organization run by Kuehl’s close friend, the Los Angeles Times reported.
“A barefoot Kuehl was escorted away from the house and her phone was taken from her. Inside, sheriff’s investigators could be seen opening and closing doors. One deputy appeared to be taking photos or videos,” the Times reported.
“A copy of the warrant, signed by Superior Court Judge Craig Richman, showed that the search was tied to an ongoing probe into Peace Over Violence, a nonprofit run by Patti Giggans, a member of the Sheriff Civilian Oversight Commission and a close friend to Kuehl. Both Kuehl and Giggans have clashed fiercely with Sheriff Alex Villanueva and have called for his resignation,” the report added.
“Sheriff’s investigators also searched Giggans’ house, her nonprofit’s offices, offices at the L.A. County Hall of Administration, and the headquarters of the county’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which awarded contracts to Giggans’ organization. The warrant to search Kuehl’s house authorized investigators to seize any documents or electronic files related to the Peace Over Violence contract acquisition,” the Times continued.
“Sheriff’s Department. We have a warrant. We demand entry,” one deputy shouted after knocking on the front door, according to a video tweeted by Times reporter Alene Tchekmedyian.
A report from the Orange County Register alleged the investigation began after former LA Metro employee Jennifer Loew accused Kuehl of improperly helping Giggans’ organization to win a contract in 2017 to run a hotline for people to report sexual harassment on public transit.
In September 2020, KTTV-TV published an investigative report stating that the “Off Limits” hotline, which was created through several no-bid contracts, was costing county taxpayers more than $8,000 per call.
The outlet cited allegations from Loew, who served as a transit security special project manager for LA Metro at the time.
“Peace Over Violence was clearly reporting self-inflated numbers, but when I learned that Metro was turning around and conveying that same information that POV had inflated to the public, I would call that lying,” Loew said.
“They wanted to hide it from you as taxpayers in LA County, and I’m here to expose it,” she said.
Months later, Loew said supervisors retaliated against her for going public with her allegations.
“I’ve been put in a rubber room essentially after whistleblowing,” Loew said in April 2021. “They can pretty much stomp people who are trying to uphold the law and do good things for the agency and the riders.”
The report said she filed complaints with the LA County Sheriff’s Office and District Attorney’s Office as well as the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
In an interview with KTTV, Kuehl said the investigation is based “on an old obsession by a Metro employee,” calling it “bogus.”
“This is a bogus non-investigation,” Kuehl said. “There’s no investigation going on that would support this warrant.”
She said she “didn’t know anything about the contract” and the Board of Supervisors did not vote on whether to approve it.
According to the Times, deputies also searched Giggans’ house as well as offices at Peace Over Violence, LA Metro headquarters, and the county Hall of Administration.
“BREAKING: #LASD serving warrants in multiple locations in the criminal case involving @metrolosangeles @SheilaKuehl, Patti Giggans, @PeaceOvrViolnce & Phil Washington currently in nomination process by @JoeBiden for head of FAA,” TNT Radio producer Cece Woods tweeted.