Graham Staffers David Vacca and Steve Hernandez Subpoenaed
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Two staffers for D.C. Council member Jim Graham have been subpoenaed to appear before a federal grand jury next week as the FBI investigation into the city's taxi industry continues.
David Vacca and Steve Hernandez, both of whom work for the Committee on Public Works and Transportation, are to appear before the grand jury Oct. 8.
Hernandez, the committee clerk, and Vacca, a legislative analyst, have been asked to be prepared to talk about taxicab legislation, according to sources familiar with the investigation.
Both men declined to comment Tuesday.
Graham's chief of staff, Ted G. Loza, was arrested Thursday for allegedly accepting $1,500 in bribes to try to influence legislation that would have favored the taxicab industry.
In exchange for the cash, trips and free rides, Loza agreed to promote legislation and policies that helped the unnamed individual, the indictment alleges.
The indictment says the individual -- whom sources identify as Abdulaziz Kamus, executive director of the African Resource Center -- wanted to limit the number of taxicab licenses issued by the District and to create an exception for hybrid vehicles under D.C. law. The sources requested anonymity because they are not authorized to discuss active cases.
Graham (D-Ward 1), chairman of the Public Works and Transportation Committee, later included a hybrid exception in legislation dealing with the taxicab industry that is pending before his committee.
Neither Vacca nor Hernandez nor Graham have been charged with wrongdoing.
Several law enforcement sources said that Graham is not a target or even a "person of interest" in the investigation.
However, a law enforcement source said, authorities are scrutinizing Graham's and Loza's dealings with the taxi industry.
The D.C. Republican Committee sent Graham a letter Tuesday asking that he take a leave of absence until the FBI concludes its investigation.
"All citizens are presumed innocent until proven guilty, but District residents deserve a DC Council free of the appearance of corruption," said Robert J. Kabel, chairman of the DC Republican Committee.
Brian DeBose, a Graham spokesman, said there is no reason for Graham to step aside.