Federal authorities close stores owned by Sacramento city councilmember during raid

Federal authorities closed supermarkets owned by Sacramento City Councilman Sean Loloee — who has been accused by prosecutors of withholding wages for employees — following a raid Thursday.

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“The Homeland Security Investigations and the IRS criminal investigations have conducted an ‘authorized criminal enforcement activity’ at the Viva Supermarket locations,” said John A. Pearl, a spokesman for the IRS. “To protect all parties involved, including the agents and subjects of the investigation, that’s all I can share with you at this moment.”

Loloee, who owns the Viva Supermarket in Del Paso Heights, 3845 Marysville Blvd., and two other locations in the capital region, has been scrutinized three times by federal prosecutors since 2009. Investigators said he violated federal minimum wage, overtime compensation, record keeping and child labor laws, according to The Sacramento Bee’s previous reporting. A follow-up investigation in 2020 found that he allegedly violated these laws again, and then a third investigation alleged he coerced employees.

Jennifer Cho, a special agent with the IRS’ Criminal Investigation unit, declined to say if the raids were connected to any investigation into Loloee or whether any arrests had been made. She also declined to say if each Viva Supermarket had been searched or if authorities conducted their operations at any residences.

A video uploaded to Facebook by a resident showed Homeland Security agents inside the store and a sign on the store saying it was closed. Viva Supermarkets at 4211 Norwood Ave. in Sacramento’s Glenwood Meadows neighborhood, and at 10385 Folsom Blvd. in Rancho Cordova, each had signs outside saying, “Sorry Temporarily Closed” on Thursday afternoon.

The signs at the Rancho Cordova location were affixed with red tape reading, “U.S. Customs and Border Protection” and “Evidence — Do not open.” Agents with Homeland Security Investigations, part of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, were spotted inside the closed store.

Homeland Security Investigations confirmed in a statement its involvement in the raids with the IRS and the California Department of Justice. The agencies conducted a “court authorized criminal law enforcement activity” at several locations in the Sacramento-area, an emailed statement said.

The state Department of Justice wrote in an email it was unable to comment on, even to confirm or deny, a potential or ongoing investigation.

Agents on Thursday afternoon were beginning to remove “temporarily closed” signs at the Rancho Cordova supermarket. Some law enforcement officials were taking electronics and boxes.

Loloee did not immediately respond to requests for comment. There was no activity at his home in Hagginwood, and the councilman could not be found at his Natomas office early Thursday afternoon.

“The issue you’re emailing about is personal matter related to the Councilmember’s businesses and is not connected to his work at City Hall,” Loloee’s office said in an emailed response. “We would encourage you to reach out to Viva Supermarkets for questions or comments regarding the matter.”

A spokesperson for Viva could not immediately be reached for comment.

Loloee, who sits on the governing board of the Sacramento Public Library system, was not present at the beginning of a 3 p.m. board meeting.

Reached around 2:15 p.m., Denicia Valdez-Jones, a staffer in Loloee’s office, said she believed Loloee was touring potential sites for temporary housing in his district, which spans most of North Sacramento.

Margo Santana, who posted a video of one of the morning raids to Facebook, speculated he may be at his wife’s home in Granite Bay. The city commissioned an investigation last year into claims that Loloee lived there rather than the Sacramento home he purchased in 2019; a local attorney who conducted that investigation concluded last October that Loloee does live in the council district he represents.

The residency controversy continues to draw skepticism from some residents.

“He’s probably in Granite Bay where he lives,” Santana said. “Why would he be here?”

Click here to read the full article in the Sacramento Bee via Yahoo News

Comments

  1. Seems like this guy has higher ambitions? Criminal charges? Cheating? Not living in the district he represents? Wow has all the making of a true democrat political party guy. I bet the people of his district will elect him again?? He represents them and the city so well.

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