SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Lawyers defending Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow in his corruption case have filed an affidavit which cites FBI documentation accusing San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and other city and state officials of participating in alleged bribery schemes, contract rigging and money laundering.
The motion-to-dismiss filed by attorneys Tony Serra, Curtis Briggs and Greg Bentley alleges Chow is being selectively prosecuted while a number of city leaders, including the mayor, have been implicated in wrongdoing by undercover FBI agents and have not been prosecuted.
Chow is a convicted former gang member and current leader of the Ghee Kung Tong community organization based in San Francisco’s Chinatown. Prosecutors allege the Ghee Kung Tong is a criminal enterprise involved in trafficking drugs, guns and stolen goods.
Chow, who publicly renounced his life of crime years ago, has pleaded not guilty to charges of racketeering following a years-long FBI probe which also ensnared State Senator Leland.
On July 1, Yee, former San Francisco school board president Keith Jackson, his son Brandon Jackson, and sports agent Marlon Sullivan pleaded guilty to racketeering and bribery charges.
The motion said undercover FBI agents made illegal campaign contributions to mayoral candidates in 2011:
Specifically, the FBI alleged in discovery that Ed Lee took substantial bribes in exchange for favors and that Human Rights Commissioners, Nazly Mohajer and Zula Jones, hustled in these bribes for the Mayor. The United States Attorney asked for a RICO charge on Keith Jackson and Leland Yee for similar conduct. Lee, Mohajer, and Jones remain unindicted.
According to the filing, Jones allegedly explained to an undercover FBI agent that former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown “taught Ed Lee how to do business.” The filing cites Jones as saying:
“You got to pay to play here. We got it. We know this. We are the best at this game, uh, better than New York. We do it a little more sophisticated that New Yorkers. We do it without the mafia.”
In a statement Tuesday, Mayor Lee’s re-election campaign spokesman P.J. Johnston said, “While it appears others may have tried to engage or ensnare Mayor Lee and any number of other people in their own wrongdoing, there’s absolutely nothing in today’s filing by Raymond Chow’s attorneys that suggests that Mayor Lee himself or his 2011 campaign did anything wrong or inappropriate. As we have stated previously, Mayor Lee’s campaign is committed to following the letter and spirit of all campaign finance laws. If and when the Mayor’s campaign receives specific information from the government about any questionable contributions, we will take immediate and appropriate actions.”
Also in the court filing, a manager with the San Francisco Metropolitan Transportation Agency, Sululagi Palega, is alleged to have procured guns for an undercover FBI agent.
During a meeting at Waterbar Restaurant on the Embarcadero, Palega agreed to provide numerous weapons to the undercover agent so that the agent could protected his illegal narcotics business. Palega sold at least one firearm to the man who the FBI claims was allegedly an Italian Mafioso. Prior to the sale taking place, Palega used a City of San Francisco car to come and go from a meeting at Town Hall with UCE 4599 at which Palega provided an update on his ability to procure assault rifles, hand grenades, and ammunition. He handed the UCE a Sees Candy box with a gun in it and said “Enjoy the candy.”He remains unindicted.
SFMTA spokesman Paul Rose said Palega “has been a valued member of the agency since 1999, but it wouldn’t be appropriate to comment any further on these allegations.
The filing also implicates Alameda County Deputy District Attorney Sharmin Bock, San Francisco Supervisor London Breed, and local NAACP president Rev. Amos Brown, among others, in alleged bribery and pay-to-play schemes.
Rev. Brown characterized the accusations as “hearsay” and said he would have no further comment. A spokesperson for the Alameda County DA’s office also had no comment on the court filing. Mohajer and Supervisor Breed’s office had not yet responded to messages seeking comment. Attempts to reach Jones were unsuccessful.
Last year, one of Chow’s attorneys sued Mayor Lee accusing him of accepting illegal campaign donations from an undercover FBI agent involved in the corruption probe of Chow, Yee, and 26 other defendants.
None of those named in Tuesday’s filing have been charged with any wrongdoing. In 2000, Jones along with a contracting firm were indicted in an alleged scheme to defraud the city’s minority contracting program, but the charges were eventually dropped.
Carlos E. Castañeda is Senior Editor, News & Social Media for CBS San Francisco and a San Francisco native. You can follow him on Twitter or send him an email.