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Will FBI Look Beyond Building and Safety?

PERSPECTIVE - If the Feds are looking to cast a wide net on bribery at LA’s Building and Safety Department, [link] it seems logical they will not allow organizational lines to restrict the investigation.

Many FBI agents are CPAs. They are trained to look beyond the epicenter where fraud is discovered.  Fraudulent activities tend to have tentacles that reach into related areas, so just as competent CPAs will expand the scope of an audit once undesirable practices are encountered, it is almost certain a few other departments will undergo scrutiny.

But which ones?

Planning would have to be near the top of the list.  Controversial projects not only require safety inspections, plans must be approved as well. Developers or contractors who are bold enough to bribe BSD inspectors would probably not be bashful about approaching Planning Department officials with generous offers.

For that matter, any department that grants large contracts will come under some degree of suspicion if the FBI determines there is a culture of corruption in City Hall – God forbid!

If the scope of the investigation expands, one can only speculate as to the impact on the mayoral race. Certainly, City Controller Greuel’s competence will be challenged (not difficult to do under normal circumstances).

What about Austin Beutner? As the mayor’s roving departmental manager, a widespread investigation will cast a shadow over his abilities to serve the city as the chief executive.

Time will tell.

All of us need to follow this story.

(Paul Hatfield is a CPA and serves as Treasurer for the Neighborhood Council Valley Village.  He blogs at Village to Village and can be reached at: phinnoho@aol.com ) –cw

Tags: Feds, Building, Safety, FBI, inspectors, Controller Greuel, Austin Beutner

Vol 9 Issue 44
Pub: June 3, 2011