Wearing an American-flag necktie, Supervisor Ed Jew headed up the steps of the San Francisco courthouse Monday morning, shaking hands and hugging a number of the roughly 100 supporters, mostly Asian-Americans, gathered for the embattled supervisor who is fighting allegations that he lied about where he lived in order to run for a seat on the Board of Supervisors.
Minutes later, inside the courtroom, Jew entered a plea of not guilty to nine felony counts.
“He’s not walking into court falling down on his hands and knees and begging forgiveness,” Jew’s attorney Bill Fazio said outside the courthouse following Jew’s arraignment on the charges. “He is saying: ‘I was duly elected to represent my constituency. I am doing a good job. I am going to continue to do that job and I didn’t do anything wrong.’”
District Attorney Kamala Harris has charged Jew with nine felony counts ranging from perjury to voter fraud, which center on the allegation that Jew never resided in the Sunset home on 28th Avenue as he claims.
Today, while Jew will be at a Board of Supervisors meeting, Fazio and Harris’ prosecutors will determine the date of his preliminary hearing, which is expected to be sometime before July 30. Fazio said the case could go to trial as early as mid-October.
The evidence Harris submitted — such as utility bills, where mail was sent and the testimony of neighbors — to prove that Jew did not reside in the Sunset seemingly shows Jew had a much stronger connection to his Burlingame house.
Jew’s defense attorneys have not disputed that Jew has divided his time between the Sunset and Burlingame homes, but say Jew’s “intent” is to live at the Sunset home.
“If I can show, and we will be able to, that he had a prior relationship with that [Sunset] address, which we know he does, that he had been there on occasion … and it was always his intent to come back [there], he’s home free,” Fazio said. “He walks out the door as he should.”
After the arraignment, Jew said he was “just so pleased to see so many individuals” showing support.
Jew could also face other legal battles. City Attorney Dennis Herrera has requested permission from the state’s attorney general to sue Jew to oust him from office, alleging Jew violated the City Charter by not living in the district he represents.
Jew also remains under investigation by the FBI for reportedly accepting $40,000 in cash from owners of a beverage franchise seeking help in obtaining city permits.
The FBI has yet to charge Jew with a crime following its May 18 raid of his City Hall office, Chinatown flower shop and other properties connected to him.
Newsom may yet show supe the door
Mayor Gavin Newsom continues to hold off on making a decision that could force embattled Supervisor Ed Jew to leave office.
Newsom said Monday that he is still exploring the option of invoking a provision in the City Charter that allows him to suspend a supervisor for misconduct.
“There is no timeline for me,” Newsom said. “I am going to do what’s appropriate based on the facts, and I am going to be very cautious exercising my right to be judge and jury.”
The suspension would remove Jew from the board while he undergoes misconduct proceedings before The City’s Ethics Commission. A recommendation for Jew’s removal would require approval by eight of the 11 members of the Board of Supervisors.
Newsom acknowledged that the evidence against Jew “seems overwhelming,” but he said, “that’s not in and of itself reason to exercise my charter rights.”
City Attorney Dennis Herrera produced two more pieces of evidence last week in a filing with the state attorney general: a signed bank loan Jew took out on his Burlingame home a month after he filed candidacy papers that lists his address as Burlingame, and a check with his name and a Burlingame address used in August 2006 to pay for garbage service.
Jew’s attorney Steven Gruel said in a statement Sunday the new evidence proves nothing.
“Herrera’s new ‘evidence’ is nothing more than an extension on an existing line of credit on one of Supervisor Jew’s properties and an old check used to pay a bill” he said. “Neither detail disputes the supervisor’s supported claim of domicile at 2450 28th Ave.”
Chronology of a scandal
» May 18: FBI agents raid Supervisor Ed Jew’s City Hall office, Chinatown flower shop and other properties and find $20,000 in a safe that Jew says came from tapioca shop owners and was intended for neighborhood playground repairs.
» May 23: City attorney and district attorney launch investigation into Jew’s residency, voter fraud and perjury, saying he does not live in the Sunset district he represents. Jew boards a plane for a pre-arranged trip to China.
» June 3: Jew returns from China, holds press conference for Chinese media only to discuss trip.
» June 4: Jew files papers to give $10,000 in cash to a Sunset playground nonprofit. The money is rejected.
» June 5: Jew pens an editorial in the Sunset Beacon stating that he has no intention of resigning.
» June 7: Jew sends documents to City Attorney Dennis Herrera’s office to prove he lives at the Sunset district home.
» June 11: Herrera’s office says the documents failed to prove Jew’s residency and gives him a “final opportunity” to do so.
» June 12: District Attorney Kamala Harris charges Jew with nine felonies, including perjury. Jew surrenders to Burlingame police and is released on $135,000 bail.
» June 13: Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin presses Mayor Gavin Newsom to consider initiating misconduct proceedings against Jew.
» June 14: Jew returns to work at City Hall, saying he is “happy” to be an elected official and that his office is “open for business.”
» June 18: After a four-week investigation revealed “overwhelming” evidence that Jew does not live in the Sunset district, Herrera announces that he will seek approval from the state attorney general to sue Jew in order to oust him from office.
» July 3: Jew’s attorneys say the embattled supervisor hasn’t broken any residency laws and uses his Sunset home “primarily for sleeping.”
» July 5: Jew’s attorneys call Herrera’s investigation biased for using only white investigators.
» Friday: Herrera says Jew’s claim that he lives in the Sunset district is a work of “fiction” and that the supervisor has used racism as a diversionary tactic.
» Monday: Jew pleads not guilty to the district attorney’s nine felony charges.