Federal agents raid home of Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao

FBI agents raid a home on Maiden Lane where Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao allegedly lives in Oakland, Calif. Thursday, June 20, 2024.
FBI agents raid a home on Maiden Lane where Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao allegedly lives in Oakland on Thursday. (Jessica Christian / Getty Images)

FBI agents conducted search warrants early Thursday at the home of Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao and the home of an employee of a city waste contractor.

The FBI confirmed the two search warrants but declined to say who the targets of the search warrants were and whether they were connected.

Thao and her office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The first search was conducted at the mayor’s home on Maiden Lane in the Lincoln Highlands neighborhood, and it also included officers from the Internal Revenue Service as well as the U.S. Postal Service. Neither agency could be immediately reached for comment.

Video from local news agencies showed agents carrying boxes and bags out of the house.

Thao’s tan, two-story house sits on a picturesque street near the Oakland Hills. Outside the mayor’s house, a sign reading “joy” sat propped against the hedges, and the family’s garbage cans still stood at the edge of the curb.

Greg Linden, one of Thao’s neighbors who lives just a few houses up the street, said news of the raid spread quickly through the neighborhood.

Linden didn’t see this morning’s raid himself but instead learned of the news when a neighbor called him.

Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao is shown at a news conference
Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao is shown at a news conference Nov. 6, 2023, announcing that the 2025 NBA All-Star Game will be played in San Francisco at the Chase Center. (Jeff Chiu / Associated Press)

“It’s a lot more buzz than we’d normally have” in the neighborhood, he said. “It’s a pretty quiet street.”

“There’s obviously something big going on,” he said.

The second search warrant was conducted three miles away from the mayor’s home. The FBI said agents searched a house on View Crest Court in the Oakland Hills.

Property records show that the latter home is connected to Andy Duong, one of the Duong family members who own and manage Cal Waste Solutions, which has been investigated over campaign contributions to Thao and other elected city officials, the Oaklandside reported in 2020.

FBI agents were still wandering in and out of the house as of Thursday afternoon, at one point searching the trunk and interior of a white Mercedes sedan that sat parked in the driveway of the blue two-story house.

Duong could not be reached for comment.

The searches come as Thao and Alameda County Dist. Atty. Pamela Price face recall elections this November amid increasing voter frustration over crime and budgetary issues that have challenged city leaders.

Thao became the first Hmong person to be elected to office in a major U.S. city in the fall of 2018 when she won a seat on the City Council, representing residents of the 4th District, which includes neighborhoods such as Montclair, Laurel and Melrose.

Four years later she was elected mayor, inheriting a troubled city still recovering from a pandemic and experiencing a significant rise in almost every crime category including armed assaults as well as property and retail thefts.

The violence has prompted several high-profile businesses in recent months to close locations in Oakland, including In-N-Out Burger and Denny’s, citing safety risks to employees and customers.

The group Oakland United to Recall Sheng Thao, led by a former Alameda County Superior Court judge whom Thao removed from the city’s Police Commission in June, has faulted the mayor for the rising crime. They've criticized her for failing to declare a state of emergency on crime and for taking a year to replace a police chief she fired. Thao also drew intense scrutiny for missing the application deadline last year when Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office offered more than $267 million to cities and counties to fight retail thefts.

In February, Newsom sent 120 CHP officers to Oakland as part of a new state law enforcement campaign to address violent crime, an operation that has helped recover more than 880 stolen vehicles and 47 "crime-linked" firearms, and led to more than 400 arrests.

“As crime rates across California decrease — including right across the Bay in San Francisco — Oakland is seeing the opposite trend," Newsom said when he announced the operation. "What’s happening in this beautiful city and surrounding area is alarming and unacceptable."

Efforts to crack down on crime seem to be working. Recent reports from the Oakland Police Department show a 33% reduction in crime in 2024, compared with the same time last year.

Times staff writer Karen Garcia contributed to this report.

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.