Supervisor Ed Jew had a meeting in his City Hall office on March 14 with the owner of a tapioca-drink store in his district and demanded $20,000 to make city permit troubles disappear. He then threatened that the price would increase to $50,000 if the cash wasn’t coughed up soon, according to a federal criminal complaint filed Thursday.
Jew allegedly later told the owner of the Irving Street Quickly store to round up other owners of the 12-store chain for the same shakedown. On May 4 — under the surveillance of the FBI — Jew convened a meeting after hours in his Chinatown flower shop with a Quickly franchise employee and two FBI informants. There Jew demanded $80,000 for permit assistance for eight Quickly stores. According to the criminal complaint, he assured the three that he was the “boss” of a high-ranking city official in the Planning Department and that a consultant would help owners with paperwork while he would be working “in the back.”
Federal prosecutors charged Jew on Thursday with mail fraud in connection with the alleged shakedown. Jew will enter a plea this morning before a federal court judge and faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.
Jew’s attorney Steve Gruel, who was traveling, left a message with The Examiner, saying: “Supervisor Jew denies the charge in the complaint. We contest the allegation in the complaint and will be pleading not guilty.”
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Jew’s alleged bribery scheme hinged on a recently adopted city law requiring chain stores to obtain a special permit to operate. City planning officials investigated the permit status of the Quickly stores, a worldwide chain, at Jew’s request and informed him via e-mail on March 22 that 12 stores were not in compliance.
The complaint said Jew approved the issuance of a city notice of violation to the Irving Street Quickly, which was sent through the mail.
On May 7, Jew allegedly arranged a nighttime meeting with Quickly owners at his Chinatown flower shop, which was under FBI surveillance, to discuss payment, and Jew was paid $40,000 in $100 marked FBI bills with the promise of an additional $40,000 payment, the complaint said.
Jew told the FBI that he was approached by the store owners for help with permits and the $40,000 was given to a consultant he had referred them to. However, after being told by the FBI conversations were taped, Jew changed his story and said he kept half the money and planned on donating it.
On May 18, the FBI raided a number of locations tied to Jew, including his residence in Burlingame, where they allegedly found $10,000 of the cash.
Jew also faces an Oct. 26 criminal court case, charged with nine felony counts for allegedly lying about where he lived to run for office. District Attorney’s Office prosecutors say Jew was living in Burlingame and not at a 28th Avenue Sunset house as he claimed. City Attorney Dennis Herrera has also requested permission from the state’s attorney general to sue Jew to oust him from his seat on the board, based on allegations he violated the City Charter by not living in the district he represents. A decision is pending.
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