August 14, 2022

DWP board needs tally of legal charges amid billing scandal

The Division of H2o and Power’s Board of Commissioners on Tuesday purchased an accounting of how a great deal DWP income has been put in on authorized representation and relevant charges stemming from the 2013 billing debacle.

The action follows a string of plea-offer announcements involving previous workers of the DWP and city attorney’s office environment. Prosecutors say attorneys operating for the metropolis admit they took part in a collusive strategy to file and then settle a superior-profile class-motion lawsuit introduced by DWP customers versus the metropolis over inflated DWP expenses.

The movement handed Tuesday instructs team to present a report on “all ratepayer funds used in between September 1, 2013, to current date for legal services in link with any matter” similar to the billing litigation, like an accounting of expenditures on outside the house counsel.

The motion also bans the DWP from “simultaneously” contracting with any attorney, law agency or distinctive counsel supplying lawful expert services to utility.

Prosecutors previous month declared that previous DWP general manager David H. Wright agreed to plead responsible to bribery, admitting that he pushed the DWP board in 2017 to award a $30-million no-bid contract to an legal professional hired by the office of Town Atty. Mike Feuer.

The board’s vote will come a single working day following prosecutors announced that a former top rated lawyer in Feuer’s workplace, Thomas Peters, agreed to plead guilty to one rely of aiding and abetting extortion.

Peters, who worked as main of the civil litigation branch, assisted oversee the city’s lawsuit against PricewaterhouseCoopers, the consulting organization that the metropolis blamed for the 2013 billing problems.

Feuer’s place of work had aggressively pursued the PricewaterhouseCoopers scenario in an effort to recoup likely hundreds of thousands and thousands of pounds resulting from the 2013 overbilling fiasco but later abandoned the lawsuit. Ahead of dropping its lawsuit, the city’s attorneys fought needs from PricewaterhouseCoopers to develop files that would have destroyed the city’s case, prosecutors mentioned.

The DWP board also moved last month to keep its have impartial lawyers, fairly than count on tips from the metropolis attorney’s business office on concerns encompassing the billing litigation.

“There could be guidance that we gained that could be enthusiastic by an fascination in deflecting, diminishing or covering up preceding bad acts,” DWP board President Cynthia McClain-Hill advised The Times in an job interview previous month. “We require to know that our advice is not motivated by any of those people motivations. It is not to say that they have been or that they are, but they could be.”

The board also past month asked that three city lawyers accused of several moral breaches in a court docket-purchased investigation no lengthier get the job done on DWP-similar matters. The lawyers have denied wrongdoing.

Feuer, in a Dec. 15 letter to the DWP board, agreed to McClain-Hill’s request for independent counsel and claimed the three attorneys would operate on unique issues.