All Charges Dropped Against Key Defendant in Santa Clara County Sheriff Firearm Permits Trial

All criminal charges against the ostensible mastermind of an alleged bribery conspiracy to obtain concealed firearms permits have been dropped—a bombshell decision among prior guilty pleas.

Prosecutors from the State Attorney General’s Office dropped the two felony charges against Christopher Schumb, a prominent local attorney, political fundraiser and key defendant, for conspiring to bribe an executive officer and bribing an executive officer.

An attorney for recently appointed Attorney General Rob Bonta announced the decision to a superior court judge Monday morning, citing not enough evidence for the trial to proceed beyond reasonable doubt. The decision comes three months after Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen’s entire office was disqualified from prosecuting Schumb, due to the “fatal conflict” created by his personal and political relationship with Rosen.

However, the DA's office noted the possibility of keeping the case against Schumb alive down the road.

"We are ready to try the remaining defendants," the statement read. "Once that trial concludes, the AG has the right to refile charges against Mr. Schumb."

Neither Bonta’s office nor Schumb's attorney returned requests for comment.

The investigation was initially sparked by questions from Metro Silicon Valley in 2018 into a contribution from an executive protection specialist to an independent expenditure committee. The district attorney then conducted an undercover investigation and laid out a theory that multiple individuals engaged in a conspiracy to funnel bribes in the form of campaign contributions.

Bodyguards at AS Solution received permits following a laundered $45,000 donation to help reelect Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith in 2018. Schumb accepted the contribution from executive bodyguard Martin Nielsen to the Santa Clara County Public Safety Alliance in October 2018. In 2019, when Nielsen’s concealed carry application wasn’t moving through the system, he sought assistance from Schumb, who made a call on his behalf, according to accounts filed by the district attorney’s office.

Nielson received a gun permit less than a month later. Nielsen assisted the district attorney’s investigation, and in October 2020, he and former AS Solution manager Jack Stromgren both pled guilty to misdemeanor charges—as did Christian West, the company’s former CEO, a few months prior.

Interest in acquiring CCW permits by executive protection officials stemmed from the 2018 shooting on YouTube’s Mountain View campus. The permits are hard to come by in Santa Clara County—where Sheriff Smith alone has the power to grant them.

It’s unclear what the decision means for the remaining defendants: private attorney Harpaul Nahal, local gun parts manufacturer Michael Nichols, Sheriff’s Department Capt. James Jensen and Undersheriff Rick Sung. As of May, the DAs Office was still set to prosecute Jensen’s case.

No criminal charges have been filed against Smith, who invoked her right against self-incrimination when questioned by a grand jury about the allegations last year.

Reporters Michael Moore and Katie Lauer contributed to this story. 

14 Comments

  1. Entrusted by voters with unique authority, Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith did what so many contemptible elected officials do with the public’s trust, she opted to monetize it for herself. Lacking handy family members to use it appears she set about finding a Hunter and James Biden on her staff to serve her as bagmen and, if needed, fall guys. That she found well-compensated sworn law enforcement officers willing to prostitute their integrity is the real tragedy in this story.

    Imagine the public good that would come should one of the sheriff’s bagmen turn state’s evidence and allow the justice system a crack at the office holder who gave birth to this scandal and made criminals out of solid citizens? It would constitute for that defendant a giant step toward repenting for sins committed and just maybe make the next sheriff think twice before turning the agency into a shake-down operation.

  2. The case is falling apart. The main purpose of the case was to throw “poop” against the Sheriff’s re-election bid. The Dems do it every 4 years. The Dems can’t wait to get rid of her (the only remaining elected Rep in the County. I know there is a Sup who claims to be a Rep; however, his voting record belies that).

    You will notice many negative articles about the Sheriff’s office such as claiming that the Sheriff should spend more on mental health and less on incarceration. The Sheriff is not in business to provide counseling. If there is a shortfall in mental health services, the blame lies squarely with the Dems who run the county, the Dems who run the state, and the frat boy Governor — they are the ones who have failed to act.

    This is a good example of why one should wait until the verdict is in on these types of political prosecution cases. As Gomez Addams is fond of saying, “Dirty pool, ole man,…!”

  3. The Bay Area is an Uber-Liberal corrupt area – although I support making it easier to obtain CCW permits – I have no illusions that corrupt CA politics & propaganda are against it. As far as the SCC Sheriff office it comes down to the lesser of evils since they must all Pander to CA special interests and corruption.

    The DEM dominated State is Rotten with Too Many Corrupt Politicians from the GOV on down.
    CA DEMs have clearly found a regulatory gap in tax & political ETHICS Laws… and the Newsoms are benefiting the most.

    “Wooing Spouses Gives BIG Donors Influence Over CA DEMs…”
    The Representation Project, a nonprofit founded by Gavin’s wife Jennifer Siebel Newsom received more than $800,000 from companies lobbying to influence state policy (PG&E, AT&T, Comcast, Kaiser Permanente, High Tech giants among a long list).

    “In 2015, when Gavin Newsom announced his run for governor, contributions increased by 30% to nearly $1.6 million.”

    “Since 2011, the Representation Project has paid Siebel Newsom more than $ 290,000 a year, for a total of $ 2.3 million, according to Sacramento Bee.”

    “The $2.3 million Newsom’s Wife earned over those years accounted for over 20% of the $10.4 million the nonprofit received.”
    “Representation Project donors also gave about $1.3 million to Newsom’s political committees”

    Gov. Newsom isn’t the only CORRUPT CA DEM exploiting this glaring NonProfit loophole.
    – Rob Bonta opened a nonprofit & moved $25,000 to a 2nd NP where his wife was the CEO.
    – Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon’s wife received over $500,000 in donations and event sponsorships to her nonprofits from companies with business before the Legislature.

    A non-profit has a tax status which allows Rich Elites to HIDE their money – 80% of non-profits are owned by people that graduated from 5 old colleges back east,
    Corrupt New(tax)som formed the nonprofit so his wife could pull a salary – they are not doing anything for NO Profit.

  4. Funny how SJI knows more about this than they admit.

    The founder of ‘Santa Clara County Public Safety Alliance’ has also been a key member of the ‘Sheriff’s Advisory Board’.
    The advisory board was(is?) an outfit that generated funding for Sheriff’s Department programs and activities OUTSIDE taxpayer funding.

    The founder has also been featured several times here at SJI in interviews and even an editorial that suggests SJI has financial ties to him and Smith’s corruption.

  5. Let me guess the good ole boys get off scot free while they hang Laurie out to dry. I am a wasp I filed a report with the feds about sequel predators returning g multiple times to valley med while I was trying to get an cray degree. Hey liccsrdo your city cops refused the report so the Fbi funny hat people
    took it

  6. Restrictively issuing concealed carry weapons permits (“CCW”) provides the incentive for bribery. If most any trained and background checked law-abiding resident can get a CCW, there’s no reason to offer a bribe for one. The vast majority of CA sheriffs, even the Los Angeles County (pop. 10M) sheriff, now readily issue CCWs. It’s high time for Santa Clara County to join their ranks.

  7. RationalCitizen, agree that CCW should not be restricted except for people (ie. felons/ criminals) prohibited from owning firearms by law. I wish CA had more sheriffs like LA’s Sheriff Alex Villanueva, he seems not to be bullied by Special Interests & Corrupt Politicians – who think they have more say about citizens rights than established law and the constitution.

    And he is not bowing to the Homeless Industrial Complex Swindlers getting rich wasting Taxpayer $$$ while growing LA’s Vagrant Problems.

    “Sheriff Says He Can Clean Up All Homeless Camps In LA County In 90 Days” (21Aug2021)

    Sheriff Villanueva “…took jabs at the County Board of Supervisors, the LA City Council & Mayor, and Governor (RECALL) Newsom.
    Villanueva calls the collection of politicians the ‘TRIFECTA’ and labels them the ‘Architects of Failure’.

    “…there was a 13-day operation to root out DRUG Dealers in the Venice Beach area.
    During that operation there were 53 arrests and mitigation to slow and stop the distribution of drugs on the streets and in the tents on the Boardwalk.
    …detectives discovered meth, fentanyl, heroin and cocaine.”

    “…people wanted to know if they could be assured the TENTS Would NOT Pop Up Again.

    Villanueva simply said, “NOT ON MY WATCH”.”

  8. I was on the fence about the Newsom Recall but now that I know that Banta’s office let scumbags like Schumb off when he is so obviously guilty, I’m voting yes on the recall.

  9. In response to not suckered: The Sheriff does sit on the state board “POST.” I believe working on the peace officer standards board does work closely with the AG regarding legislation for peace officers.

  10. So if you’re an obnoxious old rich white guy from the Ole Boys Club, the rules don’t apply to you. Got it!

  11. Chris Schumb is the longtime attorney for the California Teachers Association and plays the part of the playground bully. I suspect that’s why Bonta let him off. Bonta probably wants the money from the CTA. This is outrages that this creep got off when it’s so obvious he’s guilty. It pays to be a bully in this state.

  12. Schumb’s connection to Bonta is that Schumb is a personal friend of Kamala Harris (lots of pictures online to verify). Harris was the AG before Bonta , so Schumb has many connections to the AG’s office. If Rosen was a conflict of interest, the Bonta is a MASSIVE conflict of interest.
    This is outrages that he’s getting away with this. Bonta should be investigated.

  13. Chris Schumb is a good, ethical lawyer who fights for his clients.
    If I needed a lawyer, I would want him.

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