LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Los Angeles County district attorney's office  prosecutors and criminal investigators are joining a City Hall effort to  determine how two controversial Department of Water and Power nonprofits have  spent more than $40 million in ratepayer money, it was reported today.

An official in District Attorney Jackie Lacey's office, speaking on   condition of anonymity, told the Los Angeles Times that the agency is  ``participating in an effort to obtain the records and determine whether a  crime has been committed."

It was not immediately clear if prosecutors have formally begun an  investigation or sought grand jury subpoenas requiring production of financial  records on the two nonprofits, The Times reported.

But the district attorney's involvement could help end a months-long  stalemate between city officials, who want the records, and officials at the  DWP's largest union, who have been fighting to keep them private.

City officials, including Mayor Eric Garcetti, have been trying  unsuccessfully to get the documents since September, when The Times reported  that DWP officials had only scant information on the nonprofits' expenditures. The groups were created more than a decade ago to improve relations between  labor and management after layoffs at the city-owned utility.

The organizations -- the Joint Training Institute and the Joint Safety  Institute -- are overseen by DWP General Manager Ron Nichols and the union's  politically powerful business manager, Brian D'Arcy. No detailed public  accounting of the group's expenditures has been released since their formation.

Limited records provided The Times by the DWP show that the nonprofits  have spent about $1 million a year on salaries for a few of the institutes' top  executives.