Jew's attorney alleges 'conflict of interest' in case

Former District 4 Supervisor Ed Jew was in federal court Friday on public corruption charges where his legal counsel was granted time to file a motion arguing for a dismissal.

In court, Jew’s attorney, Stuart Hanlon, alleged that Jew’s former attorney had a “conflict of interest” that could have “affected [Jew’s] right to a fair trial.”

“I’m not sure what you’re talking about,” replied U.S. District Judge Susan Illston, adding that she would read the motion “with interest.” Illston gave Hanlon until Feb. 19 to file the motion, which would be heard in court on March 19, and held off on setting a trial start date.

Federal prosecutors said if the case were to go to trial they would like to start it in early July.

Federal prosecutors say Jew extorted $84,000 in cash bribes from owners of a tapioca-drink franchise as well as another drink shop. In November, a federal grand jury indicted Jew on five felony charges of mail fraud, extortion and bribery. The district attorney has also filed nine felony charges for allegedly lying about where he lived to run for office.

On similar grounds, Jew had also faced legal proceedings from City Attorney Dennis Herrera, but that battle went away when Jew resigned from office on Jan. 10 as part of a settlement agreement with The City.

Outside thecourt Friday, Hanlon pieced together facts that he said could be grounds for dismissal of the federal case, but would not comment on the specific details of what he called “an unusual motion.”

Hanlon said he has learned that Jew’s former attorney Steven Gruel a former federal prosecutor, contacted the FBI last spring on behalf of state Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, after Yee talked to Gruel about accusations that Jew was attempting to extort money from local businesses.

Gruel’s involvement was “not made clear to Mr. Jew,” Hanlon said.

Reached by phone, Gruel said he would not comment because he is “ethically prohibited and bound” from doing so.

The court also granted Jew permission to travel to Phoenix from today until Tuesday, for “business-related matters.”

jsabatini@examiner.com

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