New details about the bribery charges against three former San Francisco political operatives emerged Tuesday, shedding new light on the pay-to-play scheme that allegedly benefited Mayor Ed Lee and served to funnel money to help clear his campaign debt.
The details sprang from the Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow organized crime case, according to documents filed Tuesday morning and transcripts of FBI wiretaps released in August.
Former school board president Keith Jackson, former Human Rights Commissioner Nazly Mohajer and former Human Rights Commission staffer Zula Jones were all charged with bribery and money laundering by the District Attorney’s Office last week. The charges also include using false names to make campaign contributions in the names of others.
FBI wiretaps from the Chow case recorded Mohajer and Jones arranging illicit payments to the mayor’scampaign.
“I am very confident that our campaign had nothing to do with the allegations that were presented,” Lee told the San Francisco Examiner on Tuesday. “As you recall, a federal judge reviewed the allegations that were made by defense attorneys in the Shrimp Boy case … [and] found that we were clean on this and were operating very cleanly.”
The charges, which include additional misdemeanor corruptions counts against Jackson, came from an ongoing political corruption investigation launched by the DA’s office.
When the DA’s office announced the charges last week, it did not reveal from where the charges stemmed and mentioned little about the allegations, due to a federal judge’s protective order.
Now, the dates of the alleged $20,000 in bribes and other details have been revealed in documents filed in San Francisco Superior Court.
On several dates in 2012, Jackson, Mohajer and Jones took bribes from undercover FBI agent UCE 4773 in exchange for future favors, votes and/or special treatment, according to the filings. UCE 4773, also known as Michael King, was posing as a real estate developer who was interested in working in San Francisco.
According to the filings that spanned from Jan. 18, 2012, to May 7, 2012, the trio requested and receieved “from undercover FBI employee UCE 4773, a bribe,” which would be paid back in the form of votes or favorable treatment.
On March 9, 2012, Jackson, Mohajer and Jones received a $10,000 bribe from the agent, according to court documents. On April 23, 2012, the three reportedly received a $5,000 bribe, and on May 7, 2012, they received a $5,000 bribe.
How Jackson, Mohajer and Jones worked together is not clear in the filing other than that the charges link them to individual bribe schemes.
While Lee’s name was nowhere to be found in the filings, the trio were recorded on FBI wiretaps receiving bribes, explicitly stating the payments were made on behalf of Lee’s campaign, according to previously released transcripts.
For instance, on April 17, 2012, Jones was recorded speaking with Agent King about how to get around campaign contribution laws that limit individual contributions to $500.
“Ed knows that you gave $10,000. … he knows that … he knows that you will give another $10,000. He also knows that we had to break the $10,000 up,” Jones said. “Ed is aware that you’re the one who’s a big donor.”
According to the wiretaps, on April 6, 2012, Jackson, Mohajer and Jones introduced Agent King to Mayor Lee as the man who had raised $10,000 to help retire his campaign debt.
Additional details in the new state charges include several people whose names were used by Jackson to make political contributions “in a name other than the name by which the contribution was identified.”
These “straw donors” are meant to give cover to the real source of the funds. Jones explained such a scheme to Agent King in one wiretap on April 17, 2012. Jones said Agent King could not write more than one check in his name and that he had to use other people’s names to hide where the money originated.
Meanwhile, Jackson, who pleaded guilty to racketeering along with former state Sen. Leland Yee, has had his sentencing pushed back to Feb. 24.
S.F. Examiner Staff Writer Joshua Sabatini contributed to this story.
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