An FBI agent has visited North Las Vegas City Hall at least twice to look into allegations that former North Las Vegas city manager Qiong Liu attempted to give herself a $30,000 retroactive raise just days before her departure in January, officials confirmed Monday.
FBI agent Reid Nakamura met with North Las Vegas City Attorney Micaela Moore at City Hall at 9:30 a.m. on Jan. 30 and again at 11 a.m. on Feb. 6, according to visitor sign-on logs obtained through a records request by the Review-Journal.
An FBI spokeswoman declined to comment.
The Review-Journal’s inquiry prompted city spokeswoman Delen Goldberg to confirm Nakamura was at City Hall to discuss Liu’s actions before stepping down as city manager on Jan. 10.
“The city is being cooperative with law enforcement that’s conducting interviews, retrieving evidence from City Hall and investigating this serious matter,” Goldberg said in a prepared statement.
Liu’s attorney, Kathy England, said she found it “suspicious” that Nakamura’s second visit to City Hall came one day before the City Council voted 4-1 to fire the city manager “for cause” and rejected a proposed $613,000 severance package.
“An FBI visit doesn’t mean anything other than that someone called the FBI and they showed up,” England said. “The fact that it was triggered by an unknown caller does seem a bit suspicious and perhaps motivated simply to bolster the alleged weight of the wrongdoing that they were going to talk about on Feb. 7.”
North Las Vegas officials have accused Liu of directing city staffers to process a form that would have allowed her to receive a $30,000 raise retroactive to November 2015 without the required approval from City Council. Liu was appointed city manager in 2014 with a starting salary of $190,000. It was raised to $220,000 in 2016.
If Liu had succeeded in January, then the $30,000 retroactive raise would have been prorated to run from November 2015 to September 2016, city officials said.
Officials said Liu was not eligible for a retroactive raise because she froze pay increases for all appointed employees, including herself, as the city grappled with a $152 million deficit in 2015.
Liu has previously called the allegations a “personal vendetta” aimed at keeping her from collecting a hefty severance due to butting heads with Ryann Juden, a friend and associate of the mayor who is now serving as interim city manager.
City officials have not said whether they will search for a permanent replacement, or allow Juden to keep the job.