Former Supervisor Ed Jew “appears to have been” the victim of a calculated attack by political enemies who promptedan FBI investigation that ultimately led to the charges of public corruption he is now fighting, his lawyer said in a motion filed in U.S. District Court on Tuesday.
Jew’s attorney Stuart Hanlon requests in his motion that U.S. District Judge Susan Illston grant a hearing to look into whether wrong-doing was committed by Jew’s former attorney Steven Gruel.
Gruel alerted the FBI to allegations that the District 4 supervisor was extorting money from a business owner, and then, two weeks later, became Jew’s defense attorney, notes the motion, which seeks to dismiss the federal criminal case.
In November, a federal grand jury indicted Jew on two counts mail fraud, two counts bribery and one count extortion in connection with a bribery scheme involving the franchise owners of Quickly tapioca drink shops.
According to FBI documents related to the case, Gruel alerted the FBI to the allegations after he was told about them by state Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco. Yee heard about the allegations from Jew’s rival candidate in the November 2006 race for the District 4 board seat, Jaynry Mak, who had been contacted by a store owner, according to the federal documents.
“This appears to have been a calculated attack on Mr. Jew that was organized from the beginning by Mr. Yee, Jaynry Mak, and the alleged victims,” Hanlon wrote in the motion, adding that Yee and Mak were Jew’s political enemies.
A spokesman from Yee declined comment and referred to a statement the state lawmaker issued last month: “I do not and have not passed judgment on Ed Jew, but it was my ethical responsibility to inform the proper law enforcement officials to investigate.”
Although Jew had signed a waiver acknowledging Gruel told him he had contacted the FBI and someone told him about the allegations, the motion said it was “concerning” and “baffling” that the investigation started because of “Mr. Jew’s own attorney.”
The motion suggests that Gruel created a “conflict of interest” in the case, the federal prosecutors failed to inform the court of the conflict, and that Jew’s constitutional rights may have been violated.
Gruel referred a call for comment to legal ethics expert Richard Zitrin, who called the legal motion “silly,” and said Gruel has done nothing improper.
If Gruel suspected any “cabalistic activity” of those out to get Jew “he never would have passed [the allegations] on,” Zitrin said.
Federal prosecutors will file a response to the motion on March 11 and Illston will hold a hearing on the motions on March 21.
Mak did not return a phone call for comment on Tuesday.