by Will Harper
C. Candace Fitzgerald, real property manager for the county of Alameda, confirms that she was interviewed by FBI agents within the last month in connection with the federal probe of developer Alan Dones. Fitzgerald said she didn't want to go into the details, but confirmed that agents were aware of a whistleblower lawsuit she brought against the county and Dones earlier this year. A judge later threw out the lawsuit. Follow the jump to see Dones' response and what other county officials say.
Dones denies any wrongdoing. The Oakland developer, who is black, accuses Fitzgerald of having a racial bias against African-American contractors. He says that during the five years it took to get the facility built, Fitzgerald never let him know how she really felt about the project and acted like everything was okay.
"She was the one that sat down and basically signed the documents that started the lease payments and she talked with me that day," Dones recalled. "And then she turned around that very afternoon and filed a lawsuit against the county and me. So, the whole time, she was harboring these sentiments that she put in her lawsuit, but she did not ever express them."
Fitzgerald dismissed as "sad" Dones' suggestion of racial bias. "It doesn't have anything to do with him as an individual," she said, adding that she sued Dones and the county because she felt the state's contract law wasn't being followed. In that suit, she described the no-bid agreement with Dones to build a new social services facility "an unconscionable waste of public funds."
To get more details about Fitzgerald's claim, read Matier & Ross' column on the dispute.
It's unclear how closely the feds are probing the county.
Richard Winnie, the county counsel, said last week that he was not aware of the county having received any subpoenas. As first reported by the Express, the Peralta Community College District received a subpoena for records from a federal grand jury in late October.
But Dones says that he believes several county employees have been interviewed by investigators. (In fact, Dones says that when agents interviewed him in October they asked him very little about his dealings with Peralta.)
In July, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Kenneth Mark Burr dismissed Fitzgerald's lawsuit, ruling that the county had no legal obligation to solicit bids because it was merely renting property. The judge, however, completely sidestepped the issue of whether it was a good deal for taxpayers, essentially saying that it was within the purview of the county Board of Supervisors to waste public funds if it wanted.and Robert Gammon