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.