At the end of August, reports began to circulate that the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power had sent guards and others to all Owens Valley DWP offices to seize documents. Officials admit an investigation is going on but still decline to comment on any of the details.
In August, LADWP Public Information Officer Chris Plakos had said only that he could not address the reports and that it was “a personnel matter.” Reliable and informed sources have now revealed some details of what is apparently under investigation.
Sources say that two men, originally from the Owens Valley but now in supervisory positions in Mojave, were placed on administrative leave at the same time orchestrated strikes on each DWP office took place. Guards and others hit each office- in Mojave, Owens Lake, Lone Pine, Independence and Bishop – at the same time, asked employees to leave, locked the buildings down, and searched for documents. Employees were asked to sign statements that they would not talk.
Sources say that the employees on leave owned a major interest in a company, Kalmatron, that makes a concrete additive and that they were selling this product to DWP. The product was reportedly used in many of DWP’s numerous concrete projects. Conflict of interest was alleged.
Sources also said that one of the men used DWP workers to do private construction at DWP’s expense. Reports also said that DWP seized the keys, cell phones and vehicles of the two men before placing them on leave. Speculation points to amounts of money all together equaling in the millions, although DWP will not respond to this question.
Additionally, other informed sources say that hundreds of thousands of dollars in equipment and material are missing from the DWP Owens Dry Lake facility. Sources say the missing materials may have led to compromising building and maintenance standards there.
We had placed calls to DWP Director of Water Operations Mary Adams, who reportedly ordered the investigation, and to Public Relations Officer Joe Ramallo for a response to our information. Adams did not respond. We asked Ramallo if ratepayers and customers don’t have a right to know some details about the investigation. On Wednesday, Ramallo emailed that “This remains an internal investigation and as such we cannot comment on it.”