FBI raids Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao's home

FBI agents raided a home tied to Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao on Thursday morning, although it was not immediately clear what they were looking for.

The FBI would not directly confirm what they were investigating on Maiden Lane. Thao listed the Maiden Lane address on her public campaign election forms.

"The FBI is conducting court-authorized law enforcement activity on Maiden Lane. We are unable to provide additional information at this time," the department said.

Agents were seen coming in and out of the home, wearing gloves and displaying their badges. They remained tight-lipped about their investigation but were observed carrying bags and boxes from the home.

Dark-colored SUVs were also stationed outside.

Thao was not seen at the home when agents carried out the raid Thursday morning. A person pulled up to the home but declined to speak with reporters.

At least three other locations were raided and are being investigated by the FBI, including 1211 Embarcadero, the location of Cal Waste, owned by the Duong Family. 

The two other locations were also associated with the Duong family, on View Crest Court and Skyline Boulevard. The location on Skyline Boulevard also had postal inspectors present in addition to FBI officers.

At the View Crest home, a neighbor who wished to remain anonymous told KTVU he saw two people in handcuffs at the home, as FBI agents continued their investigation.

He was awoken by agents shouting "This is the FBI, we have a warrant for your arrest. Come out with your hands up and nothing in your hands," he said. "The question is, is this tied into the mayor?'

The Duong family is heavily involved in politics and fundraising for politicians in state and local government.

The IRS also confirmed with KTVU that their criminal investigation agents were at the scene of Cal Waste on Embarcadero for law enforcement reasons.

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However, authorities did not confirm if these investigations were related in any manner.

At least one neighbor said that they saw the mayor at the address on Wednesday. Another neighbor said she heard the raid start around 6 a.m., and initially thought it was officers responding to a disturbance. 

Nina Medina, a retired detective with the National Latino Peace Officer’s Association, who was staying with her family next door, traveled from Southern California to meet with the new police chief, Floyd Mitchell. 

"I looked out the window and saw multiple federal vehicles moving into the driveway, agents gloved up going in and out of the residence,," said Medina. "The federal government doesn’t force or obtain warrants into one’s residence without probable cause. Anytime that it rises to a federal level, you’re talking about some significant issues involving criminality."

Thao has been criticized for mismanaging the city, but she has never faced any criminal allegations. She will likely face a recall election in November.

The recall campaign against Thao released a statement about the raids, saying she should resign immediately because of the raid on the home and "overwhelming public support" for her recall.

"While the FBI raid does not prove her guilt in the ongoing investigation, we already have multiple smoking guns indicating Thao’s lack of fitness for public office," said Brenda Harbin-Forte for Oakland United to Recall Sheng Thao in a statement. "OUST calls on the numerous individuals and organizations that endorsed Mayor Thao to speak out on these recent events. They spent millions to get Thao elected, and all of these relationships are now called into question." 

The mayor's administration has not yet responded to KTVU's request for comment.

Thao was scheduled to attend a press conference in San Francisco on Thursday; however, she did not attend. Organizers of the conference said they were not notified that she would miss the event.

Councilmember Carroll Fife, who has been an ally of Thao, said she does not know the details around the FBI investigation. She said she's focused on Wednesday's Juneteenth shooting at Lake Merritt. 

"I’m still reeling from the incident at the Lake and working with the administration to strengthen community safety there," said Fife.

Residents also called out council president Nikki Fortunado Bas for bad leadership and financial mismanagement.

Bas said in a statement, "As for this morning's FBI raids, I share the shock felt by many, and I call on all of us to remain focused on the important work of realizing a safe, connected and thriving town." 

Hours after FBI agents left the property, a group of frustrated residents gathered outside Thao's home and chanted "clean house, clean house!" 

The frustrated residents held signs that read "Where's Sheng Thao?" and "Resign or Recall."

"Our mayor has failed us. We are here to demand that she resign and stop embarrassing herself and further embarrassing the city of Oakland and further damaging the city of Oakland," said Tuan Ngo from the Coalition for Community Engagement.

Ngo, a community organizer, and concerned residents called out the mayor for failing to crack down on rising crime and mismanaging tax dollars. 

"It is time for a new life in this city to get back to where children can walk to school without dealing with drug paraphernalia on the street, prostitution. It is bad, it is bad and it can be better, if we can get good leaders, with honesty, integrity," said lifelong resident Sandi Bethune. 

Randy Wilk has lived in Oakland for 40 years. 

"This is the worst I've ever seen it, the safety here in Oakland is terrible. We've pushed out all our businesses because of that," he said. 

Rubina Karnad added: "The progressive movement is not creating progress in the city, it's the opposite." 


Former police chief LeRonne Armstrong said in a statement: 

"This is a sad day for the City of Oakland. Oakland is a city in crisis. Crime, violence, shootings, uncontrolled homelessness, unmitigated encampments, the budget deficit and more. The biggest obstacle to overcoming these crises are the failures of leadership in City Hall. Even before today’s news, some city leaders have done nothing to help--and much to hurt—our city. Oakland needs leadership with a plan to address public safety, leadership who works with businesses, and leadership that’s prepared to meet our challenges with a vision for the future of Oakland. In this moment we must unite and work together to move our great city forward. As a native, as a resident, and as the former police chief, I look forward to the opportunity to serve our city’s residents."

Oakland's NAACP called on the mayor to resign and give the city an opportunity to heal and move forward. 

Its statement read in part: "The City of Oakland has a cloud hanging over it today. The world watched as Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao’s home was raided by the FBI. While the public should refrain from a rush to judgment, the leadership of the NAACP and its members are calling on Mayor Sheng Thao to resign immediately and spare the city the cost of a recall. Oaklanders deserve a mayor who is not distracted, fully committed, and able to lead the city. Clearly, Mayor Thao cannot focus on the needs of the residents of Oakland while she addresses the major challenges posed by the FBI raid and investigation."