By Susan Crabtree - 10/19/09 10:56 PM EDT
Rep. Ken Calvert (R-Calif.) is denying he’s the subject of an FBI investigation into public property his partnership group purchased.
The FBI is looking into a lawsuit a Jurupa, Calif., community parks district has filed in connection with the sale of property to Stadium Properties, a partnership that includes Calvert.
Dan Rodriguez, general manager of the Jurupa Area Recreation and Parks District (JARPD), confirmed that two months ago an FBI agent talked to him about the land deal.
Rodriguez also noted that the agents did not ask anything specific about Calvert.
“They did not inquire into the doings of the Congressmen,” he said.
Calvert’s spokeswoman, Rebbeca Rudman, said he has not been contacted by the FBI or a grand jury and doesn’t believe he is a focus of any investigation.
“He doesn’t believe he was a part of this investigation at all,” she said.
Rodriguez said he talked to the FBI agent roughly two months ago in a brief conversation that lasted less than 10 minutes. He said he updated the agent that depositions were beginning and advised him that the district’s governing board is considering an attempt to seize the land through eminent domain.
Rodriguez also said he has provided documents to a federal grand jury convened in Los Angeles, but never testified before the panel.
The Riverside Press-Enterprise first reported over the weekend that the FBI was poking around the land deal.
The lawsuit, filed by JARPD in August 2008, accuses the Jurupa Community Services District of fraud in connection with the 2006 sale of the four acres of public land.
Those agencies, including JARPD, should have had the first chance at buying the land, according to state law.
JARPD wanted to turn the land into a baseball field for the local Hispanic community. Its officials argue that county records had slated the land for a parks purpose for years.
After the Riverside County grand jury released its findings, JARPD filed a lawsuit against the community services district accusing it of fraud and deceit in the sale of the land to Stadium Properties, the partnership that includes Calvert.
Stadium Properties wants to turn the land into a Dollar Storage facility.
Calvert argues that the grand jury’s report exonerates him from any impropriety.
“As the report clearly states, it was the seller that violated the law, not the buyers,” his spokeswoman Rudman said.
Attorneys for Stadium Properties and JARPD met Oct. 8 to try to broker a deal, Rodriguez said. At the time, Stadium Properties said it could locate and provide other properties for the park’s district to consider in lieu of the parcel Calvert and his partners purchased.
“What would that do for anybody?” Rodriguez asked. “They’re different properties [than the original one the JARPD wanted for the park]. It might be worth looking at if it’s larger and considerably less money, but if it’s larger for more money, we won’t be interested.”
The two sides plan on meeting Nov. 12, the same day the JARPD’s board is set to vote on a resolution of necessity that would trigger eminent domain action in an attempt to seize the property.
-- This article was updated at 11:24 a.m.