FBI launches Atascadero City Hall investigation
February 15, 2008
Federal investigators will probe activities at Atascadero City Hall, according to City Attorney Brian Pierik.
Pierik issued an unusual press release late today revealing the investigation, but said details will remain confidential. The inquiry likely centers around the city’s unconventional and questionable procurement of FEMA funds to build a replacement youth center at 5493 Traffic Way.
FBI sources declined to confirm or deny any investigation.
UncoveredSLO.com revealed the apparent sleight-of-hand by city officials in a Jan.11 posting, “Atascadero Filches FEMA funds, youth center rises on tainted land.” The article revealed how city officials bilked taxpayers out of more than $4 million in disaster aid to construct a replacement youth center under the guise the previous center had been rendered unsafe during the 2003 San Simeon earthquake.
Those officials alleged the historic Printery Building at 6351 Olmeda Avenue was the city’s youth center at the time of the quake, according to state and federal records.
At the time of the quake, the Printery Building, located at 6351 Olmeda Avenue, was not functioning as a youth center, but as a meeting hall for the Freemasons. The city’s actual youth center stood a few blocks away, at 5493 Traffic Way.
Responding to allegations of improper actions, City Manager Wade McKinney developed his version of a “timeline” to bolster his claim that funds for the city’s youth center were acquired appropriately. McKinney said volleyball, cheerleading, “Mommy and Me” classes, and Friday Variety Nights were ongoing activities at the Printery Building during the month of the quake.
However, at this week’s city council meeting, Community Services Director Brady Cherry said the only ongoing activities at the Printery Building in December 2003 were Masonic meetings and private karate classes.
Pierik said he has instructed city officials to cooperate fully in the federal investigation and enacted an unofficial gag order on city employees and officials.
Watch UncoveredSLO.com for more on this rapidly unfolding story.