Dannenbaum lawyer decries need for FBI raid

McALLEN — There was no need for the FBI to raid the offices of Dannenbaum Engineering firms in several Texas cities this week because the company was prepared to release all the documents being sought by federal authorities, a lawyer for the engineering firm said Friday.

The purpose of the raids in McAllen, Laredo, San Antonio and Houston was to drum up media attention, said Dannenbaum attorney Joel M. Androphy in a prepared statement.

“The FBI raids on the company offices raise some troubling questions about the government’s conduct and intentions in this evolving situation,” Androphy said. “I have been communicating with federal authorities for weeks and they never requested any company documents. I personally advised several Houston FBI agents yesterday that, if asked, the company would have voluntarily produced all of the seized records. Instead, the FBI raids appear to have been orchestrated by the government for maximum news coverage in at least four Texas news media markets.”

The raids, in which agents could be seen hauling off boxes of files, have already had an impact on the Houston-based engineering firm. Hidalgo County Judge Ramon Garcia said he will recommend that county officials discontinue negotiations with the firm over whether to award it a contract to oversee the construction project for a new county courthouse.

“I plan to recommend to Commissioners Court to cease negotiations with Dannenbaum Engineering and to move forward with the second-highest ranked firm for the Courthouse Program Manager contract,” Garcia said in a prepared statement release late Thursday.

“There is a lot of confusion at this time and I do not believe that Dannenbaum Engineering can finalize any business transactions until their legal issues are resolved, which would delay construction of the new courthouse,” Garcia said.

“The County understands that the FBI investigation is not tantamount to a determination of any wrongdoing on the part of Dannenbaum. However, given the magnitude of this project, the taxpayers deserve a degree of certainty that any contracts entered into will be honored, and this investigation creates some doubt.”

Androphy also challenged the decision by the FBI to assure the public during the raid that there was no imminent danger.

“We also ask whether an FBI spokesperson referred to non-existent ’public safety’ threats at the raid sites simply to intensify news coverage of the matter. Lost in the rush of breaking-news TV and website reports was the presumption of innocence for Dannenbaum Engineering management and employees,” Androphy said.

Androphy also said in the statement that Dannenbaum continues to cooperate with federal authorities and is reviewing its options about whether to call for an investigation into the FBI’s actions.

“We also are reviewing options for seeking an investigation and federal ethics probe of whether federal employees leaked sensitive investigative information for news coverage that led to clearly false information about the company being published by at least one national news organization,” Androphy said.