FBI raids Oakland mayor's home, several other locations in political corruption probe: source

ByLena Howland, Cornell Barnard, Tim Johns and Dan Noyes KGO logo
Friday, June 21, 2024
FBI raids Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao's home, other locations: source
There is no official word about the reason for the investigation, but sources tell the ABC7 I-Team it involves a political corruption case against the mayor and some of her supporters.

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- Just as the sun rose Thursday, FBI agents raided the home of Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao. There is no official word about the reason for the investigation, but sources tell the ABC7 I-Team it involves a political corruption case against the mayor and some of her supporters.

The FBI confirmed only that they carried out a "court-authorized law enforcement activity" at the mayor's home, but that was not the only stop for agents on Thursday.

RELATED: How city of Oakland is functioning after FBI raid of Mayor Sheng Thao's home

Confirmed locations raided by federal officials:

  • Home of Mayor Sheng Thao on Maiden Lane in the Oakland Hills
  • California Waste Solutions at the Embarcadero
  • Home of California Waste Solutions' Andy Duong on View Crest Court
  • Home of California Waste Solutions' David and Linda Duong on Skyline Blvd

More than a dozen FBI agents emerged from Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao's house after four hours inside. They carried boxes, plastic tubs and trash bags and left without comment. Witnesses heard a ruckus before 6 a.m.

Nina Medina, President of the National Latino Peace Officers Association, told us, "And about 6:00 this morning, I heard a male voice yelling to open the door. Open the door."

Medina happened to be staying in the neighborhood with friends. She came from San Diego for a meeting with the new Oakland police chief.

"The federal government doesn't force or obtain warrants into one's residence without probable cause," Medina said. "And when it rises, in my experience, to the level of the federal government, you're talking about some significant issues."

Once the FBI left, ABC7 News went to Thao's door to check reports it had been kicked in or rammed through. There was no damage to the door or sill.

Later, Mayor Thao's partner Andre Jones emerged with a bag and refused to comment before he left.

Law enforcement sources tell ABC7 News this is a public corruption case, with the FBI, IRS and US Postal Service working together. Agents hit several locations, including the offices of California Waste Solutions - we spotted IRS investigators there.

The company was started by David and Victor Duong who were under investigation by the Public Ethics Commission for funneling money through "straw donors" to council members, a story first reported by Oaklandside in 2020.

Thao allegedly received some of that money. She also traveled with the Duong brothers who funded the trade mission to Vietnam last summer. All this, in a week with her recall being approved for a vote.

MORE: Recall organizers call on Oakland mayor to resign after measure garners enough signatures for ballot

"While the FBI raid does not prove her guilt in the ongoing investigation, we already have multiple smoking guns indicating Thao's lack of fitness for public office," said OUST president Brenta Harbin-Forte. "OUST calls on the numerous individuals and organizations that endorsed Mayor Thao to speak out on these recent events. They spent millions to get Thao elected, and all of these relationships are now called into question."

"Oakland is in crisis. The mayor's office is in crisis," said political consultant Sam Singer. He has guided political campaigns and corporations through various types of crises. He says the future does not look bright for the mayor.

"In the last 24 hours, 40,000 voters turned in signatures to have the mayor recalled. This morning, she wakes up, and the FBI is knocking her door down. I don't see how she overcomes this, it's likely that she will wind up having to resign."

We reached out to the mayor's office and have not received any sort of comment. She canceled an appearance at a news conference Friday morning.

California Waste Solutions released the following statement in response to these raids:

California Waste Solutions is fully aware that federal agents executed search warrants at a number of locations in Oakland related to CWS.

The company is fully cooperating with the government's investigation and is confident that government officials will conclude that CWS was not involved in any unlawful or improper activities.

Oakland city officials surprised by FBI raid of mayor's home

There is strong community reaction in Oakland to Thursday's raid by federal agents at Mayor Shang Thao's home and other locations.

The mayor's partner Andre Jones had nothing to say as he left Oakland City Hall Thursday following an FBI raid at the Oakland home they share and other locations.

The news, sending shockwaves through the halls of Oakland City Hall where we were told the mayor's office was temporarily closed for the day, the doors to Thao's office were locked.

Oakland City Councilmember Carroll Fife spoke after a closed-door council session.

"We don't know what's going on, this is not something we were briefed on, the police department was not involved but we don't know so I have nothing else to say," said Fife.

Vice Mayor Rebecca Kaplan addressed a rumor her home was also raided, posting on X, "Nope not true."

Oakland Chinatown community leader, Carl Chan was upset to hear about the FBI raid, and worries it pulls focus from more pressing issues facing the city.

"I'm suggesting and telling elected officials when you are a public servant you have to be careful how you are dealing with the public trust," said Chan.

Protesters demand Thao's resignation

Protesters gathered outside the home of Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao Thursday afternoon, demanding her resignation after an FBI raid of the house early in the morning.

Protesters gathered outside the home of Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao Thursday afternoon, demanding her resignation after an FBI raid of the house early in the morning.

"I was shocked, just like everybody else," said protester Tuan Ngo.

Outside Thao's house, Ngo says he thinks the mayor avoiding the public is making matters worse. He believes what Oakland needs now more than ever is transparency.

"The mayor should explain to the residents what's going on. She should step out, show leadership and say how she's helping Oakland," Ngo said.

ABC7 News reached out to nearly all of the members of the Oakland City Council Thursday.

Most of them declined to comment or go on camera.

We did catch up with Councilmember Carroll Fife, however, as she was leaving a closed door council session in the evening.

"We don't know what's going on. This is not something the council was briefed on. That the Oakland Police Department told us about. I don't think they were involved. So I have very little to say because we have very little information," Fife said.

Law enforcement expert Dr. Lisa Hill has conducted investigations with federal authorities before. She says the raid is not just a bad look for the struggling city.

Hill tells ABC7 News reporter Tim Johns, given that the raid was so public in nature, she believes the FBI thinks it has a strong case against Thao.

"Maybe they're not even included, the local city law enforcement, but they're being kept in the dark. This has all the looks of a pretty serious situation," Hill said.

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