FBI investigates Oakland's payroll, hiring

August 22, 2008 11:25:15 PM PDT
The FBI has launched a criminal investigation into the city of Oakland's payroll and hiring practices and theyhave zeroed in on fire city administrator Deborah Edgerly and her family members who work for the city.

One subpoena asked for the employment and payroll records of city employees who received salary hikes, extra vacation, sick leave, cash bonuses and automobile allowances for the past four years.

The second subpoena specifically targeted Edgerly and her family members who worked for the city. The FBI asked for her time sheets, pay stubs, sick leave and vacation records. Mayor Ron Dellums fired Edgerly July 1.

The FBI also began to investigate Edgerly's daughter Erin Breckinridge, a police trainee, and her son Frank Breckinridge, a city computer technician. The subpoena also named Edgerly's nephew William Lovan, a city parking meter repairman. Lovan was arrested two months ago, along with 50 other suspected gang members. Police investigated reports that Edgerly may have interfered with their probe of the street gang.

Edgerly told ABC7 the subpoena came as a surprise.

"It's hard to have a response because I don't have any idea what the FBI is looking for or what they're looking at," Edgerly said.

The city went through a payroll audit over a year ago which found no irregularities, she said.

"It's starting to feel a little like a witch hunt at this point," Edgerly said. "I don't think I've done anything wrong."

City attorney John Russo said there was no audit or detailed investigation. In fact, in the last five years, his office has had no authority over city compensation practices, he said. Russo welcomed the FBI investigation.

"I'm actually grateful that at long last some independent agency with enforcement authority will come in and determine the validity of the allegations in the press for the last couple of months," Russo said.

One of the questions that has circulated around Edgerly is about nepotism.

"The nepotism portion of the chapter is very simple; it says you can't hire people related to you and that's it," Russo said.

Edgerly said she had very little to do with the hiring of city employees.

"I delegated my hiring authority in writing to my agency directors," she said. "I actually extended the nepotism policy and implemented and anti-fraternization policy in the city."