Federal court records have shed new light on what federal agents were looking for when they executed a search warrant at Cleveland City Hall late Wednesday night.
A four-page document handed down by United States Magistrate Judge William H. Baughman, Jr. gave permission to investigators from the FBI, the Internal Revenue Service and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), to dig through the Engineering and Construction office, which is a division of the city’s Department of Capital Projects.
According to the evidence log left behind by federal agents, authorities seized financial records, maps and contracts related to two companies: Pioneer Engineering Inc. and Burton Scot Contractors.
According to state business filings, Pioneer Engineering is owned by Khalil Ewais, an employee of the city’s Construction and Engineering office.
According to Ewais’ social media accounts, he has worked for the office for more than a decade. He earns an annual salary of approximately $86,000.
Ewais incorporated Pioneer Engineering in 2009, according to state business filings. A website or posting containing a description of Pioneer Engineering’s services could not be located.
Over the course of more than three hours Wednesday night and into early Thursday morning, agents seized records related to engineering plans drafted by Pioneer Engineering, according to the evidence log.
Agents also seized financial records and contracts related to the city’s dealings with Burton Scot Contractors. Contract information obtained by News 5 show the company was contracted to work on a citywide right-of-way project in Cleveland for $5,822,398. The project's status is currently listed as open in the Department of Engineering and Construction -- the same department that was raided.
Another contract is for the Collinwood Parking Improvements in the Division of Public Works for $1,598,798.
While evidence relating to Burton Scot was seized by federal agents, it's still unclear which projects are under investigation. The company has not returned News 5’s requests for comment.
Ewais also owns multiple properties throughout Cleveland, including at least two residential properties as well as a commercial property located in the 6100-block of Storer Avenue. The commercial property is sub-leased to a restaurant and a Metro PCS store.
When asked about the federal investigation, one of Ewais’ tenants staunchly defended his landlord.
“He’s a good guy. I don’t think he did anything wrong,” the tenant said. “Everybody loves him. Very good dude. They’re making a big deal about it, you know what I’m trying to say? He prays 5 times a day. He doesn’t do any of that stupid stuff.”
According to the evidence log, agents also seized records and maps related to the acquisition of 6122 Storer Avenue, an address that would be the parking lot at Ewais’ commercial property. Property records state Ewais purchased the property located at 6122 Storer Avenue from the city in 2013 for $2,400.
It is unclear if Ewais is at the center of the federal investigation or if he has been implicated at all. When asked whether Ewais has been suspended or placed on leave in lieu of Wednesday’s raid, a spokesperson for the mayor’s office said the city does not comment on active investigations but they are cooperating.
Ewais could not be reached for comment.
The City released the following statement regarding Ewais on Friday:
The City policy is that all employees are entitled to due process. The City presently is evaluating how it will address this employee’s work assignments.