An investigation of employees in City Atty. James K. Hahn's office is focusing partly on a computer specialist who also operates a campaign consulting business for prominent Democrats, according to public records and law enforcement sources.
Investigators working with the Los Angeles Ethics Commission this week searched the West Hollywood home and the 16th-floor City Hall East office of Anthony C. Roland, law enforcement sources said Friday.
Roland was not at his office Friday and could not be reached for comment.
The commission, working with the Los Angeles County district attorney's office, is investigating allegations that "ghost employees," who either failed to show up for work or did political tasks, were carried on the payroll in Hahn's office, it was reported Thursday.
The ethics panel has declined to elaborate on the probe, but a spokeswoman for Dist. Atty. Ira Reiner said Hahn is not a target of the probe and his office was not searched.
Mike Qualls, Hahn's spokesman, said he could not discuss details of the investigation, but confirmed that Roland was a computer specialist assigned to the automation systems section of the city attorney's office.
Roland currently works half time in the city attorney's office, Qualls said, although as recently as several months ago he worked full time.
Qualls also said Roland's consulting firm in the past year has supplied computer equipment, software and setup services to a Hahn political committee with offices in Chinatown.
Hahn is not currently a candidate for office, although aides have said he is eyeing a possible run for state attorney general. The computer system, which was purchased with funds from Hahn's political committee, was not intended to be used on any particular campaign, Qualls said. He added that Roland has kept his private business and his city service separate.
City Hall sources familiar with the workings of the city attorney's office said that while Roland was technically assigned to the automation systems section, he actually reported to Hahn's top administrative aide, Charles P. Fuentes.
Fuentes, a longtime Hahn aide and state Democratic Party activist, also is a focus of the probe, The Times reported Friday. Fuentes was traveling and unavailable for comment, his brother, Chris, said Friday.
Chris Fuentes said he did not believe his brother was involved in any wrongdoing. "They operate in a very ethical way and use the highest standards in everything I've ever seen," he said.
The sources said a supervisor in the city attorney's office once refused to sign Roland's time card. The supervisor, the sources said, could not verify that Roland had worked the hours claimed.
Although Roland continued to be assigned to that supervisor after the incident, the sources said, Roland's time cards were approved elsewhere.
Roland, 42, joined Hahn's office in 1988 or 1989, sources said.
Qualls said Roland has developed software systems to help track the office budget and has acted as a computer trouble-shooter in the city attorney's branch offices.
Privately, Roland operates a business that specializes in setting up computer systems and developing software for political campaigns, records and interviews show.
His clients have included Mayor Tom Bradley's 1989 reelection campaign and former San Francisco Mayor Dianne Feinstein in her unsuccessful run for governor in 1990.
According to public financial records, the Bradley campaign paid Roland at least $24,055 for "general operations and overhead" in 1989.
Barry Sragow, who managed Feinstein's campaign in the Democratic primary, and William Carrick, who was Feinstein's campaign manager in the general election, said computer systems such as the one established by Roland are vital in major campaigns.
"We rely very heavily on computers just to manage data bases," Sragow said. They were used to keep lists of contributors, volunteers and supporters and to store press releases, letters, position papers and speeches.
Roland played "a technical role" in setting up the computer system for Feinstein's campaign, Sragow said.
Times staff writer Josh Meyer contributed to this story.