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Oxnard City Hall raided by federal, local agents over possible misuse of public money

August 17, 2010 | 11:06 am

A raid of Oxnard City Hall by FBI agents and Ventura County investigators concerns the potential misuse of public money involving city contracts, said Dist. Atty. Gregory Totten.

The probe does not involve the inflated salaries and pension-spiking issues that have been raised in Bell, Totten said. Instead, investigators are focusing on possible misappropriation of public dollars involving public works and other city projects, and potential conflicts of interest, he said in a statement released late Monday.

"It involves other important matters of public trust,'' Totten said in the statement. "The District Attorney's Office and the FBI are engaged in a thorough and conscientious search for the truth and are confident that we will get to the bottom of this."

Totten said he could not reveal details of the probe. But Oxnard sources said it may have been triggered by allegations of misspending on a massive city water project partly funded by the federal government.

A $250-million project known as GREAT -- the Groundwater Recovery Enhancement and Treatment program -- has been publicly criticized for cost overruns and spending more than $20,000 in city funds on a grand-opening party.

In July, district attorney's investigators requested documents known as Form 700s, which elected officials and top administrators must fill out to disclose potential conflicts of interest. Investigators asked for reams of other documents, officials said.

In his statement, Totten said those informal requests for documents "proved ineffective," prompting the Friday raid on city offices.

-- Catherine Saillant in Ventura County