Five days after the FBI raided Supervisor Ed Jew’s City Hall office and a bevy of other properties he owns, he boarded a 1 a.m. airplane flight to China on Wednesday as legal pressures continued to mount.
The City Attorney’s Office, in coordination with the District Attorney’s Office, is investigating issues of his legality to hold elected office, voter fraud and perjury, while a federal corruption probe continues.
Jew, the District 4 supervisor, who has been on the job for just more than five months, is under federal investigation for allegedly accepting money from business owners in the district he represents for help in obtaining city business permits. Jew has not yet been charged with a crime, but faces possible federal criminal charges.
Jew, 47, is also under investigation by City Attorney Dennis Herrera’s office regarding his legal residence in the Sunset district he represents. Jew has claimed residence at a 28th Avenue property his father owns, but city water records indicate otherwise. Jew would face board removal if found not to be a resident of the district and could face criminal charges by the DA for voter fraud and perjury.
The City attorney has requested Jew provide evidence that would prove his residency by May 29, including a driver’s license, utility bills and tax returns.
Jew’s attorney, Steven Gruel, said that Jew’s trip “was my decision. The supervisor didn’t want to go,” adding that Jew has been “chomping at the bit” to talk about the case.
Jew’s legislative aide Barbara Meskunas said he planned the China trip in February. A travel receipt shown to The Examiner showed the flight was purchased on May 1, before Friday’s FBI raid.
Meskunas, who called the trip a vacation, said Jew would return on June 3, in time for the next meeting of the board on June 5.
Jew’s trip to China has generated concerns among his colleagues on the Board of Supervisors.
“The timing of his previously planned departure is obviously troublesome,” Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin said.
Supervisor Chris Daly said that Jew “should be here working through” the serious allegations he faces. “A flight to China at this time has the appearance that he is fleeing from a bad situation,” Daly said.
Gruel declined to comment on the specifics of the case, but defended Jew.
“At the most he is guilty of being naïve, at the most guilty of being stupid. But I don’t think there was any criminal intent with this.”
Since Friday, Jew has declined to comment on his reportedly accepting $40,000 in cash from the business owners for the services of consultant Robert Chan, of Bridge Consulting, who Jew said he referred them to for help in obtaining city permits.
Jew told The Examiner that the FBI confiscated $20,000 of the $40,000 from his safe, which he said was for community needs, such as a playground.
Get the latest news and updates about this controversy at Examiner.com's “Supervisor Ed Jew” page.
Staff writer Bonnnie Eslinger contributed to this story.