Amidst rumors of a superseding indictment in the state Senator Leland Yee corruption case — within 24 hours, according to sources, and likely including RICO charges — a notoriously disruptive Southern California lawyer has demanded government documents connecting San Francisco elected officials and the trial.
The ten page records request, filed by Southern California attorney Cory Briggs, includes a disclosure notice for the mayor’s office and board of supervisors to produce any records of meetings, correspondence and other documents connecting to undercover agents UCE 4599 and 4773, as well as the representatives of the dummy corporations the feds used in the investigation.
Cory Briggs’ interest comes in the wake of the San Francisco Chronicle reporting that supervisors London Breed, and Malia Cohen were under investigation by the FBI — meeting with UCE 4773 on several occasions. The feds looked into football legend Joe Montana who also met with an undercover FBI agent. There may be other public figures implicated too.
Sources familiar with the case told the Appeal that a superseding indictment is expected within the week. Reached by phone late Wednesday evening, Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow’s defense team says the announcement should be prompt.
“They’re bringing an indictment out in the couple of days, and if they don’t it indicates a serious problem with the investigation,” Curtis Briggs, Chow defense attorney and the brother of Cory Briggs, said.
Conducted in early June, the Appeal’s records request to the board of supervisors and mayor’s office for records related to UCE 4599 did not produce materials.
At the urging of FBI spokesman Peter Lee, this reporter agreed not to publish the alias used by UCE 4599, and other details of the agent’s undercover identity because it would compromise the safety of operatives still in the field, Lee said.
Three months ago lead prosecutor on the case Assistant US Attorney William Frentzen said in court that, “The majority of the defendants are looking at potential RICO charges,” Frentzen told US District Judge Charles Breyer at a pretrial hearing attended by 26 of the defendants and their lawyers.
RICO is the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, which provides for both criminal charges and civil lawsuits for racketeering, defined as conducting a continuing criminal enterprise.
Judge Breyer gave the US Attorney’s office until mid-July to produce a superseding indictment, including RICO charges.
Rumors that very important people, including public figures, were investigated by the FBI over the past five years have been swirling since Breyer agreed to place a protective order on the evidence, preventing anyone with access from discussing it.
In a legal decision Judge Breyer wrote, “There are also sensitive materials identifying numerous individuals who are not believed to have engaged in any criminal activities, but who were nonetheless captured on FBI surveillance or documented in FBI reports.”
At an April 8 hearing over the protective order, Breyer also said the evidence involves “certain decency in terms of people’s reputations, who may be public people, public individuals as well,” according to a transcript previously viewed by the Appeal.
“It falls into a place with an area of the law that he [Cory Briggs] practices, and is good at,” Curtis Briggs told the Appeal over the phone. “It’s his area of expertise, there’s no other attorney as concerned with corruption and government accountability.”
Cory Briggs did not immediately return phone calls and email messages requesting comment.
It’s possible Mayor Ed Lee’s policy of deleting documents deemed “routine,” discovered by the Bay Guardian, may have captured the elder Briggs’ interest. The Southern California laywer has a track record of harassing government entities or getting to the bottom of public interest matters, depending on who you ask.
“He instills fear in politicians and developers all across Southern California,” according to a Voice of San Diego report, as a result of the dozens of lawsuits leveled at politicians, and developers over the state’s environmental quality act. Currently Cory Briggs’ lawsuits are holding up about about $2 billion in development cash.
— Gabriela Dow (@GabrielaDow) May 27, 2014
Lawsuits against San Diego are the tip of the iceberg. Briggs has filed lawsuits against 20 cities over the years, kicking up controversy, ire from municipal officials, and even death threats.
The 29 defendants thus far named in the case are scheduled to appear in court the morning of August 7 for a status conference.