Perata opens up about investigation

May 28, 2009 6:51:39 PM PDT
Former state senator Don Perata is accusing the FBI of going after him for political reasons. For the past five years, he was the focus of a corruption investigation, but Wednesday, prosecutors announced they have closed the case and will not be filing any charges.

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Perata says FBI agents could not convince the U.S. Attorney's office in San Francisco to prosecute him. So they shopped the case around Sacramento looking for a prosecutor who would.

Perata says the five year long investigation was a political hit.

"The fact of the matter is this took place the entire time I was president of the senate so I was the highest ranking Democrat in California and all this started under Republican administration," Perata said.

RAW VIDEO: Watch ABC7's full interview with Don Perata about the federal investigation.

The worst part was when FBI agents raided his Oakland Hills home.

"They came in, they come into your domicile like you were Dillinger or Baby Face Nelson and there just wasn't any call for that; it was, it was, we had cooperated all along," Perata said.

Perata says he is not sure what it was that investigators thought they had found.

Perata: "It was like a lot of lint, you couldn't quite say which one got there first or which one was the one that made the suit look bad."

ABC7: "Having your son work for you?"

Perata: "Uh, you know, I wouldn't change that in a moment, I'm an Italian Catholic boy, you know family's family."

ABC7: "Taking a political consulting fee from a company that was tied to committees that you were involved with?"

Perata: "Well, you know, if you look at the state law, I did it within the context of that."

Perata acknowledges there will be people who say he should not have done any of that, but he needed to earn a living.

"I was in a situation a lot of other people are in, if I were married and my spouse was doing all this work, game over, it wouldn't have been a problem," Perata said.

Not legally, but did he avoid the appearance of impropriety?

"I don't know, would I do things differently now? Yeah, you know," Perata said.

But he does not feel what he did was responsible for what happened - that was politics.

"It just shows you that you know if you get on the wrong side of some people they can use the law to beat the hell out of you," Perata said.

Perata is now lining up to run for mayor of Oakland in 2010 and ABC7's political analyst believes he is easily the front runner, calling him as close as the bay area has to a political boss.

"I would take that as a compliment and if means you get things done it's a high compliment and I don't disagree with it," Perata said.

A spokesperson for the FBI said, "We do not engage in political prosecutions. Our investigations are predicated on allegations of criminal activity." he pointed to the investigation of San Diego Republican Congressman Randy Duke Cunningham, which was also initiated under the Bush administration.

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