Saturday, August 23, 2008

Feds subpoena Oakland for personnel records

OAKLAND — A federal grand jury has subpoenaed the city for the personnel records of former City Administrator Deborah Edgerly, her closest City Hall adviser, and four of their relatives, sources said, less than two months after Edgerly was fired amid allegations of nepotism and interfering with a police investigation.

The criminal subpoena is the clearest sign yet that federal authorities are interested in investigating City Hall, in a probe seemingly aimed, at least partially, at determining whether Edgerly gave preferential treatment to relatives during her tenure as the city's top nonelected official.

The grand jury made the request earlier this month for personnel records from Jan. 1, 2004, to the present for Edgerly; Cheryl Thompson, the former assistant city administrator; William Lovan, Edgerly's nephew and a city parking meter repairman who was arrested in June as part of the police department's crackdown on West Oakland's Acorn gang; Frank Breckenridge, Edgerly's son, who is a microcomputer systems specialist for the city; Erin Breckenridge, Edgerly's daughter and an Oakland police officer trainee; and Damani Thompson, Thompson's son, who works in the city's Purchasing Department.

The grand jury requested all personnel records for the six employees, including time sheets, pay stubs and leave slips for vacation and all other time off, sources said.

The city is cooperating fully, sources said.

Attorneys for Edgerly Advertisementand Thompson could not be reached for comment Thursday evening. City Attorney John Russo did not return a phone call.

Edgerly was hired as city administrator on a permanent basis in 2004 and hired Thompson shortly after that.

Criticism that Edgerly favored her relatives and friends in city government is nothing new. She faced criticism among some in the Police Department, for example, when Erin Breckenridge was given an unprecedented four attempts at completing the police academy.

Former City Controller LaRae Brown sued the city in March, saying she was fired when she tried to blow the whistle on shaky financial practices at City Hall. Among Brown's allegations: Edgerly had placed relatives in "no-show" positions at City Hall.

Mayor Ron Dellums fired Edgerly July 1. Thompson was put on leave and subsequently terminated shortly after Edgerly was fired. The City Council, meantime, moved to inquire about past hiring practices in July, voting unanimously, with the exception of an abstention from Councilmember Desley Brooks (Eastmont-Seminary), to have City Auditor Courtney Ruby examine city hiring practices for the past five years.

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