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FBI, local investigators seize records, computers at Beaumont City Hall

Authorities raid Beaumont City Hall, administrator's home in ongoing probe of city's ties to a private firm

Federal and local investigators raided Beaumont’s City Hall on Wednesday, along with the home of the city’s top administrator, as part of an ongoing investigation of the municipality’s relationship with a company it does business with, sources familiar with the investigation said.

FBI agents and investigators with the Riverside County district attorney’s office hauled away dozens of boxes of records, computers and other items from City Hall. A Palm Desert home — which is owned by City Manager Alan Kapanicas, according to public records — and a site in Temecula were also searched, said FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller.

No arrests have been made. Two people who answered the phone at the city manager’s home did not comment on the investigation.

The focus of the investigation are the contracts and business relationship that the city has with Urban Logic Consultants Group, a Beaumont firm whose offices were also searched by investigators, according to a statement released late Wednesday by city officials.

For the last two decades, Urban Logic has provided planning, engineering and economic development services to Beaumont, which is about 80 miles east of Los Angeles and has more than 36,000 residents.

Bill Nassar, an attorney representing Urban Logic President Kieran McKiernan, said FBI officials were interested in documents and computers that date from before his client’s purchase of the company in September 2012.

McKiernan was alerted Tuesday to the search warrants and is fully cooperating with investigators, Nassar said.

“We don’t believe our client is the target of the investigation,” Nassar said.

When McKiernan purchased Urban Logic, he inherited the firm’s existing city contracts. Although many of those contracts remain in effect, none of the firm’s former directors are current Urban Logic employees, Nassar said.

In 2010, several former directors of Urban Logic sued a Beaumont citizens group for defamation and trade libel. The lawsuit was rejected, and in an appellate court ruling affirming the lawsuit’s dismissal, a judicial panel noted that three of Urban Logic’s then-principals — Deepak Moorjani, Ernest Egger and Dave Dillon — had held top posts at Beaumont City Hall until August 2009.

Moorjani, Egger and Dillon could not be reached for comment, and it’s unclear whether any are under investigation.

Moorjani has previously stated that the FBI, the city and the company had investigated allegations of misconduct and no wrongdoing had been found, according to the appellate ruling.

The FBI raids come nearly a year after an Orange County Superior Court judge issued a ruling that Beaumont had failed to contribute to regional transportation projects for nearly a decade and owes more than $42 million plus interest to a regional transit fund. The city is appealing that decision.

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Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times

UPDATE

10:17 p.m.: This post was updated throughout with more information on the investigation.

This post was originally published at 12:31 p.m.

 

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