A former top-level Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) executive was sentenced to 48 months in federal prison for lying to the FBI about a lucrative job offer he secretly solicited and agreed to accept in exchange for providing “guarantees” of additional LADWP contract money to a lawyer who held a bribery-fueled contract with the department and also served as its special counsel.
David F. Alexander, 54, of Arcadia, was sentenced by United States District Judge Stanley Blumenfeld Jr., who also ordered Alexander to pay a fine of $50,000.
Alexander, who served as LADWP’s chief information security officer from May 2017 until February 2019, and then served as the department’s chief cyber risk officer for the next six months, pleaded guilty on February 8 to one count of making false statements to federal investigators investigating corruption at LADWP.
“At every turn, [Alexander] made clear through his actions and his words that his interests lay in his own financial future…at the cost of LADWP and its ratepayers,” prosecutors argued in a sentencing memorandum.
Beginning in 2017, Alexander developed a professional relationship with Paul O. Paradis, 58, a New York lawyer who – while secretly and simultaneously representing a ratepayer suing the department – represented LADWP in a lawsuit against PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), the vendor it blamed for a major billing debacle.
In 2017, Paradis created a Los Angeles-based company known as Aventador Utility Solutions LLC, which obtained a three-year, $30 million no-bid contract with LADWP to perform remediation work on the faulty billing system. Aventador – later renamed Ardent Cyber Solutions LLC – also performed certain cybersecurity-related work for LADWP.
From February 2019 to April 2019, Alexander abused his position as LADWP’s chief cyber risk officer and the vice-chair of the Cyber Security Working Group for the Southern California Public Power Authority (SCPPA) – a collective of 11 municipal utilities, including LADWP. Alexander manipulated the bidding process to unlawfully steer a $17 million contract to Ardent by influencing the composition of the scoring committee to include individuals whom he could persuade to rank Ardent favorably and by sharing his confidential scores for the SCPPA proposals with other members of the committee to persuade them to score Ardent favorably.
Alexander later met with Paradis and boasted about securing the contract for Ardent.
In June and July of 2019, Alexander further manipulated in Ardent’s favor an RFP process from LADWP for the award of a three-year, $82.5 million cybersecurity consulting services contract. Alexander was one of the RFP drafters and he solicited Paradis’s edits for the request to enhance Ardent’s ability to gain the contract over the dozen-plus other vendors.
By mid-July, Alexander solicited and agreed to accept from Paradis a future job as the chief administrative officer of Ardent, a to-be-determined executive-level annual salary, a sign-on bonus, and recompense of $60,000 per year for 30 years for his early retirement penalty from LADWP. Alexander did so, intending to be influenced and rewarded in connection with his ongoing assistance in securing the award of the multimillion-dollar LADWP cybersecurity contract to Ardent and use of his position to guarantee more than $10 million in future task orders for Ardent under the anticipated LADWP contract.
Alexander also asked for a secret Ardent email address and agreed to accept a laptop computer to communicate with Paradis and to secretly perform work for Ardent while he was employed at LADWP.
On July 22, 2019, the FBI executed search warrants at LADWP as part of its ongoing investigation into the department and the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office. Two days later during a voluntary interview, Alexander lied to the FBI about his conversations and corrupt agreements with Paradis. On July 26, 2019, Alexander met again with the FBI and again lied, falsely stating that he had declined any employment opportunity with Ardent and that he had never provided any guarantees to Ardent or to Paradis.
Paradis pleaded guilty on January 28 to one count of bribery. He is scheduled to be sentenced on July 19.
David H. Wright, 62, of Riverside, LADWP’s former general manager, was sentenced to six years in federal prison and fined $75,000 for accepting bribes from Paradis in exchange for his official action to secure the three-year, $30 million no-bid LADWP contract for Aventador.
The FBI is investigating this matter. Any member of the public who has information related to this or any other public corruption matter in the City of Los Angeles is encouraged to send information to the FBI’s email tip line at [email protected] or to contact the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office at (310) 477-6565.
Assistant United States Attorneys Susan Har and Jamari Buxton of the Public Corruption and Civil Rights Section prosecuted this case.