SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Three former San Francisco City Hall insiders face corruption charges for allegedly taking contributions from undercover FBI agents in exchange for political access and favors, the district attorney’s office announced Friday.
Former Human Rights Commissioner Nazly Mohajer and former Human Rights Commission staffer Zula Jones were both charged with bribery and money laundering charges.
While District Attorney George Gascon did not announce what led to the charges Friday, both women were implicated last year by attorneys for Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow in taking money from FBI agents investigating Chow on behalf of Mayor Ed Lee.
Also charged Friday was former political consultant Keith Jackson, who was named in a 2014 federal indictment along with Chow for participating in a criminal conspiracy to help alleviate former state Sen. Leland Yee’s campaign debt.
Yee and Jackson both pleaded guilty to racketeering charges last year.
In a prepared statement, Mayor Lee’s spokeswoman Christine Falvey said, “Mayor Lee is deeply disturbed by the alleged criminal activities of Mr. Jackson, Ms. Jones and Ms. Mohajer and strongly condemns them. There is absolutely no place in San Francisco for this corruption, especially in City government, and Mayor Lee urges the District Attorney and City Attorney to pursue these charges to the fullest extent.”
Jackson faces four counts of money laundering and one count of grand theft of public money. Jones and Mohajer are each charged with four counts of bribery and one count of money laundering, according to the district attorney’s office.
The district attorney’s office alleges that they solicited and accepted $20,000 in bribes from the FBI in exchange for political access and preferential treatment in city contracts.
“Any perversion of the public trust will be met with severe consequences,” District Attorney George Gascón said in a statement. “Corruption casts a long shadow on our institutions and the public’s notions of fairness. This is a sad day for San Francisco, and we have a lot of work to do to repair the people’s confidence in city government.”
Attorneys for Chow wrote in court documents filed last year that Lee, Mohajer and Jones met with undercover FBI agents on April 6, 2012, and Jackson attended the beginning of the meeting.
During the meeting, one agent was introduced as a person who had raised $10,000 to cover Lee’s campaign debt and another as an entrepreneur interested in building senior assisted living facilities. The meeting went on for 20 to 25 minutes and Lee talked to the agent about bringing private business interests and development to San Francisco, according to court documents.
Mohajer allegedly asked the undercover agent after the meeting whether he would be willing “to do another $10,000 later” but the court filings do not indicate whether anything came of the meetings.
Lee denied any wrongdoing once Chow’s attorneys, Tony Serra and Curtis Briggs, made the allegations. The district attorney’s office made no allegations against Lee Friday and it is unclear exactly what activity the new criminal charges are referring to.
Chow was convicted earlier this month of murder, racketeering and conspiracy.
Jones, Mohajer and Jackson had not been arrested as of Friday afternoon. Jones and Mohajer could face more than 7 years in prison and Jackson could face more than 11 years if convicted.
“There is no level of acceptable corruption,” said FBI Special Agent In Charge David J. Johnson. “A violation of trust is the same as is the damage to the taxpayers.”
Last August, when Chow’s lawyers filed a motion to dismiss charges, the affadivit cited illegal campaign contributions by the undercover agent to Mayor Ed Lee’s campaign in 2011 through Mohajer and Jones.
In 2000, Jones and a contracting firm were indicted over an alleged scheme to defraud the city’s minority contracting program, but the charges were eventually dropped.
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