Attorney nears completion of City Council investigation

Shira Kantor

The attorney conducting Minneapolis’ inquiry into its own regulatory services told City Council members Monday his investigation should soon be complete.

Chicago attorney Joseph Duffy – hired last fall to scour Minneapolis’ inspections and regulatory services for misconduct – gave the Ways and Means/Budget Committee an informal update of his work to date, saying he expects to issue a final report of his findings in February.

“I will tell you the end is in sight,” Duffy said, citing the near-completion of “substantial interviews,” as well as the review of several documents.

Duffy began his inquiry in September, prompted by former 8th Ward City Council Member Brian Herron’s admission to federal charges of extortion last July.

Duffy called Minneapolis City Attorney Jay Heffern “quite a task-master,” saying Heffern had been dogged in his efforts to keep the investigation on course. But Duffy told council members the inquiry remained independent.

Beyond providing a general update for the city, Duffy’s appearance allowed new council members to become acquainted with the attorney and his investigation, as several of them did not take office until January – after the investigation began.

The Chicago attorney was hired to replace the city’s previous choice – Minneapolis attorney Don Lewis. Lewis recused himself of his duties after alleged campaign ties to former Mayor Sharon Sayles Belton.

Herron pleaded guilty to accepting $10,000 from a local businessman and helped lead federal investigators to the arrest of another businessman, Basim Sabri, who is accused of bribing city officials.

A federal investigation is also underway.