Update: Today in federal court Judge Charles Breyer denied Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow’s second attempt to lift the the gag order preventing attorneys from discussing the evidence involved in the case with the public or the media.
Any issues with supplying the evidence to Chow, who is currently being held in an East Bay county jail, need to be worked out with the US Attorney’s office, and another judge, Breyer said.
While the judge said it was “entirely appropriate” that Chow’s attorney Curtis Briggs brought up the recent break-in at the federal contractor charged with duplicating and disseminating evidence in the case, he was satisfied by assistant US Attorney S. Waqar Hasib’s assurance that no evidence was taken during the burglary.
Hasib declined to discuss any details of a federal investigation.
Briggs said at a press conference following the hearing that if the judge had lifted the order he hoped to share materials that would exonerate his client, who’s reputation has been tarnished as a result of the charges leveled against him.
6:08 AM: Defense attorneys in the State Sen. Leland Yee racketeering trial are lining up in support for defendant Keith Jackson’s attempt to obtain government documents about an undercover FBI agent withdrawn from the criminal investigation over allegations of financial misconduct.
At publication time, eight of the 29 defendants named in the case have filed documents indicating support for Jacksons’ strategic move, and more are likely to jump on the bandwagon within the week, according to sources familiar with the proceedings.
So far attorneys representing Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow, Shrimp Boy’s alleged driver George Nieh, and Yee are among those showing support, according to documents filed yesterday.
“You would join in a motion if you a) agree with it, and b) if you would like to get access to the same information,” law scholar at UC Hastings David Levine told the Appeal. “If a defense attorney didn’t join… they might not be inside the circle of restriction.”
Levine is referring to the fact that should access to Brosnahan’s requested material be granted it will likely be restricted — given the gag order preventing anyone with access from discussing publicly evidence in the case. Defendants that aren’t on board wouldn’t have access.
Lawyers for Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow — who is currently in custody and also, like Jackson, charged with racketeering, amongst other crimes in the superseding indictment — told the Appeal they supported Jackson’s motion because is exposing the government’s irresponsibility in prosecuting this case.
“There is evidence that a high level undercover FBI agent was disciplined for financial dishonesty, according to Mr. Brosnahan,” Briggs said in an email statement. “This case could essentially boil down to corrupt FBI officials masquerading as undercover agents, fabricating crimes, and feigning an attempt to investigate political corruption and the Chee Kung Tong while the undercover agents themselves were the real criminals.”
A personal assistant working for Brosnahan told the Appeal that the lawyer was “not talking to the press.”
Brosnahan explained in a court document that UCE 4773’s financial misconduct indicates “a pattern of outrageous behavior by [the agent] before he was removed from the operation,” according to a filing from last week.
But, financial misconduct in a federal investigation isn’t necessarily damning for an agent’s performance. It could be something simple such as the undercover agent — UCE 4773, in this instance — being behind on his credit card bills.
“You want your agents to be squeaky clean,” Levine said. “It’s Mr. Brosnahan’s job to make the government look as bad as possible.”
Jackson, a political consultant who presided over the city’s school board in 1997, faces 22 federal criminal charges including racketeering conspiracy, soliciting political bribes, cocaine conspiracy, gun dealing and a murder-for-hire plot.
It’s possible that defendants may want access to materials Brosnahan obtains because it could help their clients’ cases and hurt others, Levine said. “That would be important to the defense should some of the documents be turned over with restrictions. It might affect strategy.”
Jackson is the only defendant charged in both of the two racketeering conspiracy counts in the indictment. One of those counts accuses him and Yee of conducting a racketeering enterprise to solicit campaign contributions in exchange for political favors and plan an international arms deal.
Rumors over the extent of public officials’ involvement remain after the San Francisco Chronicle published a rumor that an FBI agent donated $20,000 to Mayor Ed Lee’s 2011 bid for election.
According to the 288-count superseding indictment issued July 25 — which included Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act charges (RICO) — UCE 4773 allegedly gave Yee $20,000 in campaign contributions through Jackson in 2012, in part in exchange for Yee’s support of the fictional technology firm seeking a state contract.
Leaks about other prominent public figures have occurred as well. Brosnahan himself told the Chronicle that an undercover federal agent — possibly UCE 4773, the agent dismissed for alleged misconduct — met with football legend Joe Montana to discuss a possible hotel investment in the South Bay.
Supervisors London Breed and Malia Cohen were also investigated by the feds, meeting with an undercover agent several times. The agent presented himself as a real estate investor, much like the one who met with Montana.
Recently, one of the defendants’ lawyers told the Assistant US Attorney representing the government that “leaks were inevitable” in a large multi-defendant case.
There is a hearing today with Judge Charles Breyer over an attempt by Chow’s lawyers to lift the gag order on the evidence.
Additional reporting from Julia Cheever, Bay City News