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Wendy Greuel subpoenas cellphone companies for billing records

City Controller Wendy Greuel holds at a press conference to announce subpoenas have been issued to several of the city’s phone service providers as part of an ongoing waste, fraud and abuse audit regarding the city’s cell phone use. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

Los Angeles City Controller Wendy Greuel said Friday that she has issued subpoenas to three cellphone companies that failed to provide billing records for cellphone use at City Hall.

Greuel, who is running for mayor, accused the companies of using “stall tactics” to hamper her investigation, which focuses on whether they billed the city accurately and, as required under their contracts, reworked phone plans to fit the usage of each city department. “It’s absurd that businesses doing business with the city of Los Angeles want to deny the city access to cellphone bills,” she said.

Greuel said she had given the companies two months to provide the information, asking for it repeatedly in writing and on the phone. "We gave them ample opportunity to do this without subpoenas and they refused," Greuel added.

The subpoenas were issued to AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint Nextel Corp for billing data from 2006 to June 2011. They were requested by Greuel on Dec. 20 as part of her follow-up investigation to a May 2011 audit that found that optimization of cellphone plans at a handful of city agencies could have saved between $370,000 and $1 million.

Representatives for AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Failure to respond to a subpoena is a misdemeanor and can result in a $1,000 fine or jail time, Greuel said.

Greuel also requested a subpoena for Verizon Wireless on Dec. 20. But that company turned over the records in the past week. Because each city department negotiated its own cellphone contracts, some agencies have their billing information and some do not.


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Photo: City Controller Wendy Greuel holds a press conference to announce subpoenas have been issued to several of the city’s cellphone service providers as part of an ongoing audit regarding the city’s cellphone use. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

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