Sentencing delayed in L.A. city attorney’s office scandal as State Bar probe proceeds
A federal judge in Los Angeles on Wednesday ordered a six-week delay in the sentencing of a central figure in the criminal case involving the Los Angeles city attorney’s office and the Department of Water and Power.
U.S. District Court Judge Stanley Blumenfeld Jr. didn’t fully explain his reasoning for delaying sentencing for Paul Paradis until Nov. 7. His order came one day after he held a hearing in Paradis’ case in downtown L.A.
Paradis, a former attorney who worked for the Los Angeles city attorney’s office, has pleaded guilty to bribery in the federal investigation of city attorneys’ handling of a lawsuit over faulty DWP bills.
The U.S. attorney’s office in Los Angeles confirmed this month that its investigation is over, which is sparking questions about why some individuals who might have taken part in schemes weren’t charged by prosecutors.
The long-running federal investigation into the Los Angeles city attorney’s office and the Department of Water and Power is over. But many questions remain.
Paradis is now helping California State Bar investigators in that agency’s probe.
At a Tuesday hearing in Paradis’ case, Blumenfeld called a representative of the State Bar to the podium for an update on its investigation.
Anthony Garcia, assistant chief trial counsel for the State Bar, told Blumenfeld that investigators are moving with “due haste.”
Garcia also confirmed that the State Bar wants Paradis available so he can continue to aid the investigation.
The State Bar is investigating the conduct of several attorneys who worked on litigation stemming from the massive billing problems in 2013 at the DWP. Those attorneys, according to federal prosecutors, took part in a collusive lawsuit intended to quickly settle the case on terms favorable to the city and later sought to cover up the scheme.
Blumenfeld earlier this month allowed the government to provide some confidential materials, including search warrants, used in the federal investigation, to State Bar investigators.
Paradis’ attorneys declined to comment on the judge’s order. Two weeks ago, Paradis’ attorneys filed court documents seeking a more lenient sentence based on new sentencing guidelines that will go into effect on Nov. 1.
Paradis has admitted his role in the collusive lawsuit. He has also accused former City Atty. Mike Feuer of knowing about both the scheme and an extortion threat from a woman who threatened to reveal the city’s collusive lawsuit.
State Bar of California investigators are looking into how the Los Angeles city attorney’s office handled lawsuits stemming from a faulty DWP billing system launched in 2013.
Feuer, who is running for the congressional seat being vacated by Rep. Adam Schiff, has denied knowing about any of the schemes.
Blumenfeld also previously delayed sentencing in June for Paradis so the State Bar could continue working with Paradis in its investigation, one of the largest probes in decades, according to investigators.
At that hearing, Blumenfeld said that he felt a “special obligation, which has limits, to cleaning up, if that is what is appropriate and necessary, the perfidy within the Bar if, indeed, there is such perfidy.”
Separately, the government’s search warrants and other confidential documents are also being sought by Dennis Bradshaw, a DWP customer who is suing several attorneys, including Feuer, over their alleged handling of the collusive lawsuit.
Blumenfeld on Tuesday ordered federal prosecutors and Paradis’ lawyers to agree on language for a protective order for the government’s confidential documents. The government provided Paradis those documents so Paradis could prepare for his sentencing.
It’s not yet clear whether Bradshaw will be granted access to the documents.
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