Prominent LA lawyer accused of misleading judge in DWP scandal

This Wednesday, March 18, 2015 photo shows the front of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power headquarters in downtown Los Angeles.  The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power lost up to $88 million in commercial bills due to the botched rollout of a computer billing system.(AP Photo/Richard Vogel)

(ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Prominent LA lawyer accused of misleading judge in DWP scandal

LA politics

Dakota Smith
Matt Hamilton

November 6, 2023

When the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power faced a barrage of lawsuits over a flawed billing system, city officials and attorneys representing the utilities joined forces to organize a secretive lawsuit.

After allegations about the $67 million collusion settlement came to light, the Los Angeles Superior Court judge overseeing the case was forced to appoint another attorney in 2019 to represent the DWP clients.

Several lawyers vied for the high-profile appointment, which would pay millions of dollars in legal fees. The judge ultimately chose Brian Kabateck, a former president of the LA County Bar Assn. and a prominent attorney known for representing consumers in class action lawsuits.

But now Kabateck is accused of misleading the judge to secure the coveted court-appointed role.

In a 56-page complaint recently filed with the State Bar of California, Paul Paradis, a former attorney who was part of the collusion trial before becoming a secret government witness in their corruption investigation, accused Kabatec of lying to the judge, among other ethical issues. breaches.

Paradis’ claims center on ties between Kabateck and former LA City Atty. Mike Fire.

To secure the appointment, Kabateck told LA Supreme Court Judge Elihu Berle that I have no legal, business, financial, professional or personal relationship with Los Angeles attorney Mike Feuer.

But Kabateck’s former law partner, Richard Kellner, helped co-sponsor an event for Feuer’s political campaign in 2013 and subsequently made donations to his campaign.

When the political donations became a source of controversy in 2019, Kabatec Berle, who oversaw the DWP case, assured that Mr Kellner is no longer a partner in my firm and has not been a partner since December 31, 2012.

In his complaint filed last month, Paradis said that Kabateck’s law firm registration records show that Kabateck and Kellner remained legal partners until at least August 2015, which contradicted what he told the judge.

The fact that Kabateck and Kellner continued their business entanglement for several years after they both falsely claimed that Kellner had separated his law practice from Kabateck on December 31, 2012, is indisputable and extremely well documented, Paradis said in his complaint.

He also highlighted numerous federal and state lawsuits filed by Kbateck’s office between 2013 and 2021 involving Kellner, including a 2017 case in which Kellner identified himself as Kabatec’s legal partner.

Kabateck, who is also chairman of the Loyola Law Schools board of directors, called the complaint a joke in an email to The Times. Waiters did not respond to a request for comment.

Paradis’ complaint is not public, but has been reviewed by The Times. Some of the other allegations had been made earlier in 2019 but were dismissed by Berle at the time. However, the law firm’s registration information did not appear to exist

previously submitted to the court.

For Paradis, the complaint comes at an important point in his criminal case.

He has pleaded guilty to bribery and will be sentenced on Tuesday. Federal prosecutors have sought an 18-month prison sentence, while Paradis’ attorneys have argued for leniency based on his extensive undercover recordings and, more recently, his help at the bar.

His sentencing has been repeatedly postponed. Prosecutors at the State Bar have requested that Paradis remain available to assist the agency in investigating multiple attorneys linked to the DWP scandal.

In its complaint, Paradis accuses Kbateck of helping to cover up the DWP scandal by failing to aggressively prosecute the city or its attorneys, who Paradis alleges perpetrated the collusion scheme. DWP scandal by not aggressively prosecuting the city or its former lawyers who perpetrated the collusive litigation.

According to court documents, Kabateck’s law firm has received more than $5 million from the city for its work representing DWP clients in the class action lawsuit. In September, he said he planned to seek additional reimbursement from the city for his legal fees.

The State Bar announced in September 2022 that it was investigating Kabatec and attorney Mark Geragos in connection with the distribution of Armenian genocide insurance settlement funds following a Times investigation that documented problems with the allocation of the funds.

Representatives for Geragos and Kabatec denied wrongdoing in that case, and the current status of the bar investigation is unclear.

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