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Two Public Officials, Political Consultant Face Felony Corruption Charges
Joe Eskenazi and Lamar Anderson | Photo: Lamar Anderson | January 22, 2016
The dragnet that ensnared Leland Yee, Shrimp Boy continues to dredge up behind-the-scenes wrongdoing.
The elaborate federal fishing expedition that reeled in state senator Leland Yee, flamboyant gangster Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow, and a battalion of other accused criminals has apparently landed three more defendants. Charges against former Human Rights Commissioner Nazly Mohajer, longtime HRC staffer Zula Jones, and former school board president and Yee bagman Keith Jackson were today announced in a hastily assembled press conference helmed by District Attorney George Gascón, City Attorney Dennis Herrera, and FBI Special Agent in Charge David Johnson.
For those familiar with the cinematic Yee-Shrimp Boy proceedings, few of the charges somberly described by law-enforcement officials withstanding a barrage of iPhone photographs came as a surprise.
Chow, found guilty this month on 126 charges including murder, had attempted to claim selective prosecution via a bombshell 2015 legal filing including wiretap transcripts of Mayor Ed Lee’s underlings saying very bad things to undercover agents. That motion failed—but the very bad things remain:
Mohajer purportedly brokered a meeting between Mayor Ed Lee and an undercover agent posing as a donor named “Michael King” in which she allegedly overtly stated her intent to break a $10,000 donation into $500 chunks to evade campaign finance laws.
Jones is a longtime city operative who was indicted on 16 counts of fraud in 2000 (charges were dropped in 2002). In 2012, she purportedly told an undercover agent posing as a Lee donor that, in this city, “You got to pay to play here. We got it. We know this. We are the best at this game … better than New York. We do it a little more sophisticated than New Yorkers. We do it without the mafia.” Jones also helpfully told the agent that this is the system she and others were trained to execute by former mayor Willie Brown and that, worry not, Lee was “aware that you’re the one who is the big ... donor.”
Both Mohajer and Jones will be charged with four bribery counts and one count of money laundering. Lee, for his part, avoided saying incriminating things while on a wire. Critics, however, have told San Francisco that they wondered why, considering his longstanding pledge to run clean campaigns, a shady character like Jones was involved in the first place.
Jackson already pleaded guilty to earlier federal charges of racketeering and corruption (he will face sentencing next month; whether some manner of deal will be struck before that looming date remains to be seen). He, his son, and his son’s pal are also charged with gun-running and conspiracy to commit murder for hire. Today he was additionally hit with four counts of bribery, a money laundering charge, grand theft of public money, and six campaign finance–related misdemeanors. Jackson’s grand theft charge stems from allegations that the former school board member hustled a mother out of an unspecified sum of cash in exchange for falsely promising to be able to place her child in a preferred city public school. Political observers couldn't help but note that Yee, who also got his start on the school board, was long accused of similar actions with Chinese families. J
Of today's announcement, Gascón refused to say whether more charges would be on the way for any more public officials. The investigation is ongoing, added Johnson, "and we will continue to pursue this case to its logical conclusion."
There were few revelations today. Whether any revelations are on the way remains to be seen.