Suspended San Francisco Supervisor Ed Jew pleaded not guilty in U.S. District Court in the city today to expanded federal charges of mail fraud, bribery and extortion.
U.S. Magistrate Bernard Zimmerman allowed Jew to remain free on a previously set $1 million bond and ordered him to appear later this month before U.S. District Judge Susan Illston, the judge who will preside over Jew’s trial.
Prosecution and defense attorneys said they will ask Illston to schedule that appearance for Nov. 30.
Jew, 47, was indicted by a federal grandjury Tuesday on five criminal counts related to the alleged solicitation of $84,000 in bribes from two sets of businesses in exchange for help with city permits.
He faces two counts of mail fraud, two counts of bribery and one count of extortion.
The indictment replaces a previous federal criminal complaint that contained one mail fraud count.
Jew’s attorney, Steven Gruel, said outside the Federal Building courthouse that Jew maintains his innocence and will fight the charges.
Gruel said, “He didn’t do it,” but said he couldn’t give details of defense arguments.
The federal charges each carry theoretical maximum sentences of 10 or 20 years in prison upon conviction. But Gruel said that if Jew were to be convicted, the actual penalty under federal sentencing guidelines would be two to three years in prison.
Jew outside of court declined to comment on the case but said “I’m beginning to spend a lot of time with my family.”
He said he gets his resilience in adversity from his grandfather, who founded the Chinatown flower shop now managed by Jew and his wife.
In addition to the federal charges, Jew faces separate civil and criminal charges of lying about his residence when he was elected to represent the city’s Sunset District last year.
City attorneys and prosecutors contend he lived in Burlingame rather than a Sunset District house.
In one of the civil cases, Mayor Gavin Newsom suspended Jew from office in September when he filed charges with the city’s Ethics Commission seeking Jew’s permanent removal for residency violations.
In another of the cases, City Attorney Dennis Herrera has filed a Superior Court lawsuit that also seeks to expel Jew from office. Jew was served with a copy of that lawsuit just before today’s federal court hearing.
In addition, San Francisco DistrictAttorney Kamala Harris has charged Jew with nine state criminal counts including perjury and elections code violations related to his residence. Jew is due to appear in Superior Court Nov. 26 for setting of a trial date.
Gruel said that in the federal case, the indictment “is nothing more than one side of the story” and that he will now begin collecting evidence to show Jew’s side of the case.
“I’m going to take the Titanic and turn it slowly around. It’s not going to happen in a day,” the defense attorney said.
— Bay City News