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Judge to decide if trio charged in City Hall-linked political corruption will go to trial

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Former school board president, Keith Jackson, is part of a trio of political operatives accused of taking bribes and laundering political campaign donations. (Natasha Dangond/2015 Special to S.F. Examiner)

A trio of political operatives with links to San Francisco elected officials are set to return to court on Wednesday, where a judge will decide whether there is probable cause to proceed to trial.

A months-long hiatus will end this week, following the completion of the preliminary hearing on May 10 in the corruption trial, which emerged after the fallout from the Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow federal organized crime case.

The main defendant in the case is Keith Jackson, 53, a former school board president turned political consultant, who was convicted in 2016 of racketeering in federal court alongside former state Sen. Leland Yee. Jackson admitted to arranging bribes with undercover agents to fund Yee’s political future.

The other two defendants set to appear Wednesday in San Francisco Superior Court are former Human Rights Commissioner Nazly Mohajer and former HRC staff member Zula Mae Jones.

All three defendants have pleaded not guilty to allegations that they took bribes and laundered political campaign donations in 2012 to retire Mayor Ed Lee’s campaign debt in exchange for favors.

Prosecutors contend the trio ran a scheme involving illegally collected campaign contributions. The scheme was meant to hide donations over the $500 limit by using a group of straw donors.

Much of the evidence in the case comes from a wiretapped conversation with an undercover FBI agent, aka Mike King, who said he was a developer hoping his hidden donations would get him special access by city officials.

Filed in January 2016, the case has been delayed because of disagreements between the prosecution and defense over a protective order issued soon after the case was filed. The order was issued to keep documents that contained FBI wiretap transcripts out of the public eye since some people caught on tape have not had any criminal charges filed against them in the case.

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