On Tuesday, the Federal Bureau of Investigation served Palm Springs City Hall with a criminal search warrant. Agents showed up around 9 a.m. to issue the warrant and are currently being assisted by the Riverside County district attorney’s office.
According to RT, Palm Springs City Hall was issued the warrant because of allegations of a crime, and a team is also set up at the Palm Spring’s Mayor Steven Pougnet’s home. Upon entering the Palm Springs City Hall, FBI agents told City Hall employees to drop their work cell phones and to exit the building. FBI agents will be at Palm Springs City Hall for hours in search of evidence.
An FBI public information officer, Laura Eimiller, said that the Palm Springs City Hall investigation is connected to public corruption, according to The Desert Sun.
Three months ago, the Fair Political Practices Commission said that they were investigating a vote by Mayor Steve Pougnet, which awarded the sale of city property at a price that was questionable to developer Richard Meaney. In December, Pougney participated in a vote that sold a plot of land on North Palm Canyon Drive to Meaney. Pougnet was questioned on why he decided to sell the land to Meaney, who owed the state of California $47,000 in unpaid taxes and had his business license removed for five years. The Palm Springs City Council later decided to rescind the land sale to Meaney.
Around 9:30 a.m., Palm Springs City Manager David Ready entered city hall saying that he doesn’t know anything, and he was going to find out what was happening. Former Palm Springs’ Mayor Ron Oden also turned up at City Hall to watch the agents work. He said, “I’m so disappointed. This just breaks my heart.”
Dave Baron, an attorney and vice chair of Palm Springs International Film Festival, said the corruption has been hanging over the city of Palm Springs’ head for months.
“Trust in our representation is absolutely paramount to our system of government and any influence or allegation that the system has been corrupted pulls at the very fabric of our democratic process.”
No details have emerged whether the FBI is searching for corruption at Palm Springs City Hall, but if that is the case, then several people are aware or involved in the corruption and decided to look away, according to Ben Bycel, a Santa Monica attorney.