FBI agents searched the city sheriff's office on Thursday, removing files and other items as part of an investigation.

FBI spokeswoman Carrie Adamowski confirmed that agents searched the office near City Hall but declined to comment on the nature of the probe.

 

A spokesman for Sheriff Jewell Williams, who has headed the office since January 2012, said the investigation relates to Williams' predecessors.

"As part of an ongoing investigation begun in the previous administrations, the FBI arrived at the Sheriff's Office ... with a search warrant and subpoena for certain records and files," Williams' spokesman, Joseph Blake, said in an email to The Legal Intelligencer.

The Philadelphia Sheriff's Office handles real-estate foreclosures, warrants, inmate transportation and courthouse security. It has long been scrutinized over the manner in which it handled tens of millions of dollars' worth of sheriff's sales. A 2011 audit concluded that two firms took in at least $6.2 million in excess fees over six years, and it questioned the distribution of $135 million from the sale of properties, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

The administration of Mayor Michael Nutter sued a former sheriff, eight other people and five companies in April, alleging improprieties, the Inquirer said.