San Francisco

San Francisco DA, FBI Charge SF Human Rights Commissioners, Political Consultant With Bribery, Money Laundering

The San Francisco's District Attorney announced on Friday corruption-related charges against two former human rights commission employees and a former school board member-turned-political consultant.

District Attorney George Gascón, City Attorney Dennis Herrera and FBI Special Agent in Charge David J. Johnson announced the felony bribery and money laundering charges against recently retired Human Rights Commissioner Zula Jones and ex-commissioner Nazly Mohajer. Keith Jackson, a well-known political consultant, was also charged with grand theft, bribery, money-laundering and campaign finance fraud.

While District Attorney George Gascon did not announce what led to the charges today, 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.

Jackson was charged with a total of 12 counts, including four counts of bribery, one count of money laundering, 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,

“Any perversion of the public trust will be met with severe consequences,” District Attorney George Gascón said. “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.”

The last high-profile corruption case prosecuted by the FBI in San Francisco was in March 2014 when then-Sen. Leland Yee was charged in a wide-ranging firearms trafficking, money laundering, murder-for-hire and drug distribution scandal involving about two dozen defendants. Jackson was swept up in that probe, too. The complaint against Yee named Jackson as a close associate of Lee who had been involved in raising campaign funds for him. 

Yee was charged with conspiracy to traffic in firearms without a license, and to illegally import firearms as well as a scheme to defraud citizens of honest services, NBC Bay Area was the first to report. In July 2015, Yee and Jackson both pleaded guilty to a federal racketeering charges last year. Yee's sentencing date is scheduled for Feb. 10.

One of the other defendants in that case, Raymond "Shrimp Boy" Chow, was convicted Jan. 8, of 162 counts, including murder, racketeering conspiracy, and money laundering among other charges.

Court documents filed by the DA's office alleges Jackson, Jones and Mohajer are being charged with soliciting and accepting $20,000 in bribes from an undercover FBI agent in exchange for political access and preferential treatment in city contracts. Jackson's campaign finance fraud stems from using straw donors to unlawfully funnel bribe money to political campaigns. He was charged with grand theft for falsely promising a woman that he would place a child in a "preferred San Francisco public school" in exchange for money in 2012.

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

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 today and it is unclear exactly what activity the new criminal charges are referring to.

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.

Bay City News contributed to this report.

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