The Santa Clara County District Attorney served yet another search warrant on a high-ranking law enforcement official as part of a months-long probe into whether Sheriff Laurie Smith’s top brass engaged in a pay-to-play scheme for concealed gun permits.
Sources familiar with the situation confirmed that DA investigators on Thursday descended upon Undersheriff Rick Sung’s office and took his computer and other electronics. The Mercury News first reported the seizure, which reportedly came at behest of the DA’s Public Integrity Unit.
John Chase, the deputy DA in charge of the unit, declined to comment on the matter. DA spokesman Sean Webby said his office can only offer the following: “We are not going to comment on the specifics of our investigation except to thank the many witnesses who have been willing to talk to us and provide evidence voluntarily.”
San Jose Inside broke the news of the investigation in early August, when the DA’s search warrants were served on Capt. James Jensen and at least a couple other members of Sheriff Smith’s senior staff.
The inquiry was sparked by a $45,000 donation from executive protection manager Martin Nielsen to a pro-Smith political action committee. A few months after the gift, the sheriff granted Nielsen and a handful of colleagues at his firm—AS Solution, which counts Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg among its clients—permission to secretly carry guns.
Whether Nielsen gifted the money to the Santa Clara County Public Safety Alliance with an assurance of any quid pro quo from sheriff’s officials remains unclear.
San Jose Inside has previously reported that someone deposited $70,000 into Nielsen’s account shortly before he issued the $45,000 check, which suggests a laundered contribution, illegal under state campaign laws.
Neither Smith nor Sung returned requests for comment.