VIDEO: Arraignment of political operatives in corruption case postponed

Keith Jackson, Zula Jones and Nazly Mohajer have pleaded not guilty to charges of bribery and money laundering. (SF Examiner Graphic)

Keith Jackson, Zula Jones and Nazly Mohajer have pleaded not guilty to charges of bribery and money laundering. (SF Examiner Graphic)

The arraignment of a trio of San Francisco political operatives caught up in an alleged bribery and money laundering scheme was postponed Friday until Feb. 29, and a gag order was requested by the prosecution.

Last week, the District Attorney’s Office charged recently retired Human Rights Commission employee Zula Jones, ex-HRC commissioner Nazly Mohajer and former political consultant Keith Jackson, with bribery and money laundering.

Jackson, who pleaded guilty last year to racketeering charges, has also been charged with grand theft and managing a straw donor scheme.

Jackson, Jones and Mohajer allegedly accepted $20,000 in bribes from an undercover FBI agent in exchange for political promises and preferential treatment in connection with city contracts.

Comment from defense

Outside of court lawyers for two of the defendants wondered why the district attorney’s office requested a protective order and why they waited until now to filed charged against the three for alleged crimes they committed five years ago.

“This case, as far a I can tell, is really really odd,” John Keker, who is representing Jones, said outside of court. “The idea that they won’t tell us the details of the case, and they go and tell them all to the press.”

Keker said the case, from press reports, seems to revolved around a man who claimed to be an FBI agent and threw money around.

Public Defender Jeff Adachi, whose office is representing Jackson, said the request for a protective order is problematic.

“None of the information surrounding this case has been disclosed to us and they are refusing to do that unless we sign protective order,” he said. “It’s extremely unusual for the prosecution to ask for essentially a gag order in a case where much of the evidence has already been made none in the press. One of the the attorney’s for “Shrimp Boy” has already released several dozen pages of discovery which has been published.”

A hearing on the protective order request will be held Feb. 29.

‘Shrimp Boy’ case connection

Last summer, the Examiner also revealed that Mohajer and Jones allegedly facilitated illegal campaign contributions for Mayor Ed Lee, according to court documents connected with the federal case against Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow. The issue of Mohajer and Jones arranging campaign money laundering was mentioned numerous times in court documents by Chow’s attorneys Tony Serra, Curtis Briggs and Greg Bentley.

An email obtained by the Examiner also showed Jones communicated with the same undercover FBI agent — calling himself Michael King — who she allegedly plotted with to launder donations to Lee.

The case that previously ensnared Jackson also netted former state Sen. Leland Yee and Chow, who earlier this month was convicted of ordering the death of two rivals and for his alleged leadership of a Chinatown-based criminal gang.

Editor’s note: Due to a posting error, an earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the defendants pleaded not guilty to the charges on Friday.

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Read more criminal justice news on the Crime Ink page in print. Follow us on Twitter: @sfcrimeinkcorruptionCrimeEd LeeGeorge GasconKeith JacksonNazly MohajerRaymond Chowsan Franciso politicsShrimp BoyZula Jones

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