Gun bribery probe: Testimony asserts sheriff sought to obscure use of donor’s Sharks suite

Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith sought to hide her use of a penthouse suite at a San Jose Sharks game two years ago by having an employee buy cheaper seats in her name, to avoid gift-reporting obligations for use of the suite that is now targeted by an indictment against her second-in-command, according to newly released transcripts of grand-jury testimony.

The circumvention was described by management analyst Lara McCabe in her Nov. 16 testimony to a criminal grand jury, which would later hand down bribery charges alleging favor-trading for coveted concealed-gun permits involving Undersheriff Rick Sung, a top Apple security executive, a prominent supporter, and a sheriff’s captain who doubled as a close adviser.

Smith’s alleged obfuscation is contained in the last third of more than 1,300 pages of transcripts that also reaffirmed suspicion of a fast-and-loose policy for issuing concealed-carry weapons licenses by her office, in which political allegiance was paramount, with Sung serving as a loyal enforcer who leveraged the licenses to secure that support.

On Monday, Sung, Apple’s global security director Thomas Moyer, businessman Harpreet Chadha, and sheriff’s Capt. James Jensen were arraigned remotely by Judge Eric Geffon, and pleaded not guilty to bribery charges first announced in November. Geffon denied a defense motion to seal the transcripts of the grand jury proceedings.

According to the indictment, Sung and Jensen are accused of extracting a donation of 200 iPads from Moyer to hasten the release of concealed gun permits for four executive security agents protecting Apple CEO Tim Cook. Sung is separately charged with holding up a gun license for Chadha so he would donate his wife’s company’s suite for Smith to celebrate her latest re-election.

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Even though the sheriff was a listed guest in the suite, McCabe says Smith handed her a credit card to purchase three of the cheapest seats for the Feb. 14, 2019 game for Smith, Sung and Jensen costing $147. None of the tickets were used, and McCabe testified Smith asked for this expressly as a way to circumvent California Fair Political Practices Commission reporting requirements for gifts valued over $50.

When asked by Deputy District Attorney Matt Braker to affirm that contention, she said, “I believe, yes this was a way to get around reporting a gift,” and “The sheriff wanted to avoid putting this on her Form 700.”

Braker followed up: “She said that to you?”

McCabe answered, “Yes.”

Deputy District Attorney John Chase, head of his office’s public integrity unit, and Braker shepherded the two-week grand jury session. Unlike an earlier related indictment, which characterized Jensen as the linchpin in a narrative where nearly $90,000 in political donations were discussed in a direct trade for the gun permits, the latest charges portray Sung as the engine, with Jensen on the periphery.

“Make no mistake about it,” Braker said in his closing statements to jurors. “It is Rick Sung who is the driving force in both instances.”

The prosecutors presented a more circumstantial case than in the first indictment last August — in which a co-conspirator who cooperated with authorities …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment

      

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