About 40 federal agents raided the offices of a judge and three other county officials Tuesday as part of an investigation of a charity that sold chemical warfare suits to the military, the FBI said.
Agents hauled away boxes from the two commissioners’ offices, and also raided the home of one of those commissioners and the office and home of a local hospital board member.
FBI Agent Tim Kenard said the raids were part of the probe into the National Center for the Employment of the Disabled, which has been accused of failing to comply with federal contracts requiring at least 75 percent of employees be blind or severely disabled. He provided no other details.
It wasn’t clear whether the investigation was related to county business or alleged actions of the individuals, county attorney Jose Rodriguez said.
“I’m just as confused as everyone else,” said County Commissioner Luis Sarinana, whose office was raided. “I need to get to the bottom of this.”
Commissioner Miguel Teran, whose office and home were searched, said he too was unaware of what investigators were looking for.
When Teran arrived at his office, he was made to empty his pockets and turn over his cell phone, said Commissioner Dan Haggerty, who is not part of the investigation.
El Paso County Judge Anthony Cobos, whose office was raided, said the FBI should make its case publicly and quickly.
“I just hope that this is not a fishing expedition. I would challenge them to either make a case or drop it,” Cobos said.
The National Center for the Employment of the Disabled, now called Ready One Industries, sued its former chief executive, claiming he diverted millions of dollars of charity money for personal use. The suit against Robert E. “Bob” Jones was settled late last year and Jones has denied any wrongdoing.
Jones abruptly resigned in March amid the ongoing federal criminal investigation of the charity and other companies that either did business with him or had been owned by the company.
Since the criminal and civil probes became public, the company has reduced its work force from about 4,000 people to about 1,000 workers.