feds: at this very specific moment in the history of time only, mike feuer is not getting arrested
feuer, dripping with privilege, asked criminal prosecutors to please respond regarding the DWP criminal investigation.
The email appeared in reporters’ inboxes this week without comment. It was from the office of City Attorney Mike Feuer. In it, a letter from the federal government’s public corruption unit.
This will confirm that the United States Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California (the “Office”) does not, as of the date of this letter, have an ongoing investigation into your client, City Attorney Mike Feuer, related to the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office and Los Angeles Department of Water and Power collusive litigation scandal.
The letter produced a few tweets, and a local NBC story titled, “LA City Attorney Not a Target of DWP Corruption Investigation.”
The desired effect was produced. Feuer got his headline. A reading of the letter and headline could be Feuer ***never*** was a target of the investigation, instead of ***anymore***. They raided his office three years ago, and two of his former attorneys have pleaded guilty to extortion and bribery-related charges. A weird vibe clung to Feuer, though he was not charged
Last month, I wrote that the DWP criminal investigation is pretty much over. Now we get this letter. Feuer, who drips with privilege, asked the feds via his white collar criminal defense lawyer, to please respond.
What’s this letter all about? What is it not saying? Did prosecutors really have no case? I spoke with Scott Tenley, a former prosecutor in the same office going after DWP, who now practices at Michelman & Robinson. Here’s what he said:
The following interview has been edited
What’s your general take away with this letter?
It’s interesting. You don’t see these a lot. I think they’re rare. There is a section in the Department of Justice manual that applies to something like this, when the target status ends. So it’s not something that is unprecedented.
Would a regular person who wasn’t “Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer” get a letter like this?
Typically they probably wouldn’t be requesting them. Mike Feuer is getting it is because of the press attention over the investigation. The fact that he is the head of the office he becomes part of the cloud of the case. In a lot of ways it shows fairness on the part of the Department of Justice to say that, ‘We aren’t trying to keep you under this cloud of uncertainty, and once we are no longer investigating you for this particular conduct, we will tell you that.’
Do you read that letter as “You Mike Feuer are no longer the target,” or “This investigation altogether is over?”
I think this letter is drafted as narrowly as possible. It doesn’t give Mike Feuer a clean bill of health. It’s simply a notification of where he stands at this particular moment in time in that investigation. It doesn’t say they found he did nothing wrong. For instance, they could have found no evidence of any wrongdoing. They could have found some evidence, but not enough to prove beyond a reasonable doubt. Or they could have said, ‘we could have charged him, but for prudential reasons we aren’t going to do it.’ We don’t know why they didn’t charge him, and there is a lot of leeway there for the government to find a new fact or two that leads them down a different route.
So they could say they had an immunity agreement?
An immunity agreement or a non-prosecution agreement. If facts change for some reason in the future, and Feuer is indicted, this letter isn’t going to be an exhibit in the trial to say, ‘hey you used to say I did nothing wrong.’ The government would say it was based on the facts we knew at the time.
So the DOJ won’t say now if the overall investigation is ongoing or not, whereas two months ago when the lead prosecutor left, they did. It’s kind of unclear if this is still ongoing. Where do you think they are at right now?
To answer that question might suggest that a tentacle of the investigation is ongoing. What is the investigation? Has it expanded? Is it going in different directions. Maybe that’s a more difficult answer to give. It would potentially be misleading to say it is ongoing because it may not be DWP anymore, but you don’t want to say it is over because there is something cooperators are providing and sending the government in a different direction.
Is it common for the DOJ to say an investigation is closed?
I can’t think of a time I have ever heard from a spokesperson say that the investigation is closed. That’s a very rare thing. But that’s why this target letter is very important for somebody like Mike Feuer. This is the best he can do getting some indication that the investigation, as to him, is over.
Are you surprised they are not targeting Feuer anymore?
I do know that under the principles the Biden Administration has laid down there is an interest to sort of climb the corporate ladder to get to the top of leadership, whether it is a business or a public office. I do think this office and the public corruption team has probably done their due diligence before they would close up shop. This isn’t something where they just say, “well, we’re tired of the case and we don’t want to look into Mike Feuer.” My hunch is Mack [Jenkins] [head of public corruption unit] and his team really ran this to ground and made an informed decision.
Anyway, my friend bought me this DWP hat, which is from the official city merch store in downtown. I’ve started wearing it way too much. Now that DWP is apparently all over, this is all I have left. Where do we go from here? Send me a note before I start spamming you all with book reports about the Polish diaspora and random short stories.