Developer Wants Warrants Unsealed

Times Staff Writers

A lawyer for Alan Casden asked a judge Wednesday to unseal search warrants executed at the developer's Beverly Hills offices last August.

Also Wednesday, two people said they had testified this week before a Los Angeles County Grand Jury looking into the legality of political contributions made by Casden employees and subcontractors to city candidates.

Casden's attorney, Jeffrey C. Eglash, said during a brief court hearing Wednesday that he understood that indictments in connection with the investigation could be returned as soon as today.

Prosecutors did not comment. The hearing was moved to a closed courtroom, and the search warrants were still under seal Wednesday.

Casden, who is on the Forbes 400 list of wealthiest Americans, and his firm have contributed $213,000 to Los Angeles city candidates in the last four years, records show. The Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office is investigating whether employees or subcontractors of Casden's firm were reimbursed improperly for contributions made to city candidates, according to sources close to the investigation.

Casden has denied any wrongdoing.

Stacey Lundgren, the office manager of Freedom Painting, said she and two other employees of the firm had testified before the grand jury Monday. Lundgren declined to discuss details of her testimony.

Eddie Armstrong, a superintendent for Harges Plastering in Agoura Hills, another contractor for Casden's company, said he had testified Wednesday. He said he had been asked about his $1,000 contribution to mayoral candidate Kathleen Connell in 2001.

"I said I did it freely and willingly," Armstrong said. "I'm in construction, and she is pro-construction. Why shouldn't I contribute to her?"

Eight employees and relatives of employees at Freedom Painting contributed $1,000 each to Connell's campaign in 2001. The company's employees and relatives of employees also gave another $12,000 to the campaigns of City Council members Jack Weiss, Wendy Greuel, Martin Ludlow, Antonio Villaraigosa, Tony Cardenas and Ed Reyes, according to records on file with the Los Angeles Ethics Commission.

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