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King City manager claims he didn't eavesdrop on confidential conversations

By Marissa Schwartz, Reporter, MarissaSchwartz@kionrightnow.com
Published On: Aug 13 2014 12:41:40 AM CDT
Updated On: Aug 13 2014 11:38:59 AM CDT

The city manager of King City is defending his name after allegations of wire tapping

KING CITY, Calif. -

A Central Coast city official is defending his name after allegations of wire-tapping.  This comes as the investigation into King City's alleged towing scheme continues and two former police officers face corruption charges. 

New details surrounding the alleged eavesdropping by the city manager are starting to unravel.  On Tuesday, NewsChannel 5 found out how the city is handling information revealed after a search warrant at City Hall recently became public.

City Manager Michael Powers handed a letter to residents at Tuesday night’s city council meeting.  That’s where city leaders went behind closed doors for a second time to discuss Powers' performance evaluation.  This comes after Monterey County investigators allegedly found evidence of wire-tapping, from Powers' phone at city hall. 

City leaders said they were fully aware and compliant with the search warrant served in May by Monterey County investigators.  The information surrounding that investigation was sealed until now.  According to the Salinas Californian, the warrant states investigators believe Powers started listening to confidential conversations during the investigation into the alleged towing scheme.  Powers declined an on-camera interview but handed NewsChannel 5 the letter addressed to residents.

It says in part:  "I have never intentionally tried to listen in to a conversation on the phone or other devices.  I was in disbelief when this was alleged."

Powers has not been arrested or charged with a crime.  Some residents attended the Tuesday meeting, to hear if the city would take any disciplinary action following the allegations made in the warrant.

"Whatever percent of trust that we have right now and we're trying to be optimistic, you know they will shatter the town. You know I think the town has been shattered a couple of times. But I think if they don't do it, I don't know what it’s going to take now," said resident Margarita Lopez.

City leaders announced they would discuss the warrant in closed session and would hear from residents beforehand.  However the details of his evaluation would not be discussed to protect his right to privacy.  Residents who support Powers said he doesn't deserve any repercussions and the letter defending his alleged innocence was the right step.

"I think they're looking for someone to take the fall for what's been going on in the city. I don't believe the city manager should be held accountable to that," said resident Kent Robinson.

On Tuesday, the city didn't take any action against Powers.  Mayor Rob Cullen said at some point the city's phones will be looked at by the phone company under the city attorney's supervision.