Charges should be dropped against SF political operatives, say lawyers

Lawyers for three San Francisco political operatives charged with bribery say the vague allegations against their clients should be dropped, and a gag order requested by the District Attorney is unwarranted and “runs afoul of … constitutional rights.”

Former school board president Keith Jackson, former Human Rights Commissioner Nazly Mohajer and former Human Rights Commission staffer Zula Jones were all charged with bribery and money laundering by the District Attorney’s Office in early January. The charges also include using false names to make campaign contributions in the names of others.

The District Attorney’s Office has released few details on what evidence they have against the three, claiming a federal protective order bars them from doing so.

But in a Feb. 8 filing, lawyers for the three said the District Attorney’s claim is baseless and any protective order in a federal court has no role in separate cases in state court.

“The state chose to bring these charges, and it needs to come forward with the evidence to support the charges,” noted the filing. “To put it bluntly, this is the state’s problem, not the defendants’. The state needs to either figure out a way to provide the defendants with information and discovery to which they are entitled, or dismiss the case.”

Claims made by prosecutors that case files need to be protected in order to protect the reputation of those that have not been charged in the ongoing investigation and guard the identity of undercover FBI agents are are false, say defense attorneys. The filing also calls into question that any witnesses might be endangered through the publication of case files.

What’s more, the filing says the federal filing from which much of their case rests has already be made public after they were released in a filing last August.

The allegations stem from the Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow organized crime and political corruption case, according to court documents and transcripts of FBI wiretaps released in August.

FBI wiretaps from the Chow case recorded Mohajer, Jones and Jackson arranging illicit payments from an undercover FBI agent to Mayor Ed Lee’s campaign.

The mayor has denied any wrongdoing in the matter.

Jackson and former State Sen. Leland Yee, who both pleaded guilty to money laundering and other charges, are set to be sentenced Feb. 24.


Read more criminal justice news on the Crime Ink page in print. Follow us on Twitter: @sfcrimeinkBriberCity HallcorruptionCrimeHuman Rights Commissioner Nazly MohajerMayor Ed LeePoliticsSF politicsZula Jones

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