DWP board wants legal fees to be counted amid billing scandal

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The Water and Electricity Department’s board of commissioners on Tuesday ordered a report on the amount of DWP money spent on legal representation and related expenses arising from the 2013 billing debacle.

The action follows a series of advocacy announcements involving former employees of the DWP and the city attorney’s office. Prosecutors say lawyers working for the city admit participating in a collusive scheme to file and then settle a high-profile class action lawsuit brought by DWP clients against the city for inflated DWP bills.

The motion passed Tuesday asks staff to report on “all taxpayer funds spent between September 1, 2013 and today on legal services relating to any matter” related to the billing dispute, including expense accounting. external lawyers.

The motion also prohibits the DWP from contracting “concurrently” with a lawyer, law firm or special advisor providing legal services to public services.

Last month, prosecutors announced that former DWP chief executive David H. Wright had agreed to plead guilty to corruption, admitting he pushed the DWP board in 2017 to award a contract without $ 30 million tender to a lawyer hired by the City Atty office. Mike Feuer.

The council vote comes a day after prosecutors announced that a former senior lawyer in Feuer’s office, Thomas Peters, had agreed to plead guilty to one count of aiding and abetting extortion.

Peters, who worked as the head of the civil litigation branch, helped oversee the city’s lawsuit against PricewaterhouseCoopers, the consultancy the city blamed for the 2013 billing problems.

Feuer’s office aggressively pursued the PricewaterhouseCoopers case in an attempt to potentially recover hundreds of millions of dollars from the 2013 overbilling fiasco, but then dropped the lawsuit. Before dropping their lawsuit, city lawyers fought requests from PricewaterhouseCoopers to produce documents that would have harmed the city’s record, prosecutors said.

The DWP board also decided last month to retain its own independent lawyers, rather than relying on advice from the city attorney’s office on the issues surrounding the billing dispute.

“There might be advice we received that might be motivated by an interest in deflecting, diminishing or covering up past bad acts,” DWP board chair Cynthia McClain-Hill told The Times in an interview last month. “We need to know that our advice is not influenced by any of these motivations. This does not mean that there has been or that there is, but there could be.

The board also asked last month that three city attorneys accused of various ethics violations in a court-ordered investigation no longer work on DWP-related issues. Lawyers have denied wrongdoing.

Feuer, in a Dec. 15 letter to the DWP board of directors, accepted McClain-Hill’s request for independent counsel and said the three lawyers would work on different issues.

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