Feds raid Seeno and Discovery offices in Concord

February 18, 2010 11:09:21 PM PST
One of the Bay Area's most prominent developers is under investigation. The FBI, Secret Service and IRS raided offices belonging to the Seeno family Thursday morning. Agents swooped in on businesses owned by the family that builds houses in Contra Costa County and owns a major casino in Reno.

The Seeno family has been building homes in the Bay Area for more than 70 years. They now appear to be the focus of a major federal investigation.

Thirty federal agents raided two offices in Concord that house Seeno family businesses, including the Albert D. Seeno Construction Company and Discovery Homes.

"This morning, around 8 o'clock in the morning, IRS criminal investigation division, Secret Service and FBI executed a search warrant of these premises. We're looking for records and evidence and that sort of thing," FBI special agent Joseph Schadler said.

"We are providing full cooperation," Seeno's attorney Bill Goodman said. "We've conducted perfectly lawful operations in all respects and I assume all they're going to find when they review the records is proof of that very point."

Albert D. Seeno Jr. is the son of the founder. His two sons, Tom and Albert III, manage the home building company. The Seeno family also owns the Peppermill Casino in Reno and has a financial interest in two other casinos. In 2004, the Nevada Gaming Commission fined Seeno Jr. $775,000 because of associations with felons and members of the Hell's Angels.

An employee of Discovery Builders, cousin Salvatore Evola, is the mayor of Pittsburg, where he recently tried to get the city to waive fees on developers due to the bad economy.

In 2006, Discovery was sued by several Pittsburg homeowners after a mudslide damaged their homes.

Now, with so many federal agencies investigating, this search may involve something more serious.

"Most of us think of the Secret Service as just the president's bodyguard, but they're much more than that," ABC7 legal analyst Dean Johnson explained. "They're also charged with the investigation of federal financial crimes. That can include everything from credit card fraud, to identity theft, to counterfeiting, to mortgage fraud."

The FBI spokesperson would not specify exactly what possible crime or crimes are being investigated. Goodman says it is his belief the investigation is limited to the family's real estate interests and not the casinos or other business ventures.

Investigators were still on-site as of early Thursday evening and have not indicated whether they will return Friday.