Breaking: CCW Defendants Seek to Disqualify DA as CEO Pleads

Four defendants in an alleged CCW bribery scheme have filed a motion to take Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen off the case.

John Joseph Wall Jr., the attorney for Christopher Schumb, argues that Rosen’s friendships and political ties create conflicts that prevent a fair prosecution.

“This criminal action brought by Rosen under the pretext of public integrity smacks of retribution and vindictiveness,” Wall writes.

Attorneys for Schumb’s codefendants—Capt. James Jensen, Harpaul Nahal, Michael Nichols—expressed similar concerns today during their first court appearance since the DA unveiled the charges against them earlier this month.

Rosen and Chief Assistant DA Jay Boyarsky both cultivated a close relationship with Schumb, creating what Wall calls “a fatal conflict that cannot be ignored.” Yet the DA and his second-in-command “will be witnesses at trial, thereby creating an actual conflict that would render it unlikely that Mr. Schumb will receive a fair trial,” the motion states.

While Rosen has not accused Sheriff Laurie Smith of a crime, he is pursuing a case against several of her associates, which, according to Wall, presents huge ethical issues. The prosecution comes on the heels of “a well-documented power struggle” between Rosen and Sheriff Smith, the motion continues, “thereby precluding [the DA] from prosecuting this action in an objective and evenhanded manner.”

Schumb’s counsel goes on to describe how the DA has benefitted from the same political system that he accuses Sheriff Smith’s allies of exploiting.

“Over the course of six-plus years, Jeff Rosen solicited from Mr. Schumb legal advice, political advice, personal favors and money for his re-election campaigns,” Wall writes in his motion. “Mr. Schumb who served as a lawyer, fundraiser and personal friend to Mr. Rosen also served as a lawyer, fundraiser and personal friend to Sheriff Laurie Smith. The favors and graciousness Mr. Schumb provided to Sheriff Smith were substantially similar to those he provided to Jeff Rosen.”

In Wall’s telling, Schumb traces his friendship with Rosen back to the DA beating his predecessor, Dolores Carr, in the 2010 election. On the day after the polls closed, then-Deputy District Attorney Boyarsky reportedly asked Schumb to grab lunch with him and the newly elected DA. “Schumb agreed and within the week the three dined together and a friendship ensued between Schumb and Rosen,” per the motion, “as did an attorney-client relationship in which Rosen sought legal counsel from Schumb.”

Over the ensuing years, specifically from 2013 to 2018, Wall says his client “exchanged at least 224 emails to and from Rosen’s personal email address.” He says Schumb also raised thousands of dollars for the DA’s election campaigns and, at Rosen’s behest, introduced him on many occasions to prospective donors.

In June of 2013, the motion states, Rosen asked Schumb to host a fundraiser for his upcoming re-election. Schumb says he obliged, hosting the event at his own home and raising thousands of dollars for Rosen. The DA also reportedly enlisted Schumb to set up various lunches and dinners with other established figures in the community so he could solicit their support, too, according to the motion.

Schumb’s attorney cites a Sept. 29, 2013, email in which Rosen asked Schumb to arrange a meeting with Frank Dorsa, who owns a winery that hosts political fundraisers—including one that figures into the DA’s ongoing bribery case.

“I have not previously met Frank,” Rosen wrote, according to the motion. “Perhaps, after the three of us have lunch, he will be willing to host a fundraiser at his home.”

“Also,” Rosen added, in a likely reference to local business owner Victor Duong, “when can we have tea with the Asian guys?”

Rosen ended the email by thanking Schumb and his wife for opening their home to support his re-election. “You’re a good and generous person,” he said.

When Kamala Harris ran in 2015 for the U.S. Senate, Schumb hosted a fundraiser for her at his San Jose home and featured Rosen as a speaker at the event. “Chris, [y]ou are the best,” Rosen wrote after the event in an email cited in Wall’s motion.

“The event was a success in all respects,” per the motion. “At the time, Rosen had expressed interest in running for California’s Attorney General and increas[ing] his stature in the public in the event he decided to run for attorney general.”

Wall argues that the scope and breadth of the friendship between Rosen ad Schumb was “broad and deep.” He says the DA sought advice from Schumb about a range of matters, from “the mundane to the extraordinary,” from asking for help about fixing a family heirloom to requesting help with political fundraisers.

Even after Rosen began serving search warrants in connection to his investigation into suspected bribery, the DA reportedly joined Schumb’s table at the Latino Leadership Alliance Fundraiser Dinner hosted on March 6, 2019, at the Silicon Valley Capital Club.

The motion claims that Schumb maintained a close, “if not closer,” relationship with Boyarsky, whom he invited to several SF 49ers and Cal football games. Boyarsky and his boss accepted invitations to lunch with Schumb at the St. Claire Club in the summer of 2018, while the investigation into suspected bribery was well underway.

“The friendship between Schumb and Boyarsky extended to their wives, as well, and the two couples would have dinners together,” the motion goes on to say.

When a dispute arose between Rosen and the sheriff over the DA trying to gain unfettered access to inmate phone calls, Boyarsky asked Schumb—who counts Laurie Smith as a friend—to help resolve the impasse.

“In a conversation while discussing the jail recordings issue, Boyarsky told Schumb that Rosen was considering endorsing her [2018 re-election] challenger, John Hirokawa,” the motion reads. “Schumb responded by saying that it would be a bad political decision on Rosen’s part and explained why he felt that way.”

After Sheriff Smith won the election, Schumb says he tried to heal the rift—to no avail. On Jan. 8, 2019, Rosen escalated his dispute by detailing his argument for tapping the phone calls without warrants in a lengthy letter shared with other county officials.

The motion then jumps to Aug. 6, 2020, when Rosen announced the indictment against Schumb and the other codefendants. At the press conference unveiling the charges, Rosen introduced his team, including Boyarsky, whom he described as “actively involved in this investigation since its inception.”

During that presser, a reporter asked whether Rosen, because he works so closely with the Sheriff's Office, had considered turning the alleged bribes-for-CCW case over to the California Attorney General. DA Rosen responded by saying the AG had already determined that there was no conflict.

Standing outside the Hall of Justice today, Rosen once again defended his office’s ability to handle and prosecute the case objectively.

John Chase, who leads the DA’s Public Integrity Unit, has successfully prosecuted local public officials before, Rosen explained. He noted that his office secured convictions against three Santa Clara County jail guards who in 2015 beat to death an inmate. A few years before that, they managed to convict ex-Santa Clara County Supervisor George Shirakawa Jr. of corruption, duping political donors and gambling with taxpayer money.

“Our Public Integrity Unit under Mr. Chase has long been very vigorous in holding law enforcement and elected officials accountable,” the DA said.

During the brief court hearing today, Schumb, Nahal, Jensen and Nichols asked Santa Clara County Judge Eric S. Geffon if they could hold off on entering pleas until he has a chance to consider the request to take Rosen off the case.

The petition was filed this morning at a hearing in which a fifth defendant, ex-AS Solution CEO Christian West, pleaded guilty to two felony counts of conspiring to offer bribes for concealed gun permits and for falsifying applications to obtain them.

According to West’s lawyer, Tim Crudo, the former executive protection official admitted guilt in hopes of getting those charges reduced to misdemeanors if he continues to cooperate with prosecutors as they continue their investigation. Under the plea bargain he worked out with Rosen, West will face up to 18 months in jail—half the time he could have served if convicted of the two felony counts.

All five of the accused appeared today at the Hall of Justice alongside their attorneys. Schumb showed up with Wall, Capt. Jensen with Harry Stern, Nahal with Christian Picone, Nichols with Sam Polverino.

Rosen observed the proceedings from the public seating area in Department 24 before heading outside to take questions from reporters.

Standing in front of the Hall of Justice, Rosen declined to answer questions about the motion to disqualify, saying he hadn’t had a chance to read it. But he called West’s plea “a significant development” in the case.

West, a 51-year-old immigrant from Denmark whose legal name is Christian Hansen, served as CEO of AS Solution during the time of the alleged bribes.

According to prosecutors, West tasked one of his middle managers, Martin Nielsen, with finding a way to obtain concealed-carry gun permits. In California, the permits, known as CCWs, can only be authorized by police chiefs and sheriffs in an applicant’s home jurisdiction. The licenses are notoriously hard to get in Santa Clara County, where fewer than 150 people have managed to obtain them through the Sheriff’s Office.

The DA claims that Schumb and Nahal—both attorneys by trade—and The Gun Co. CEO Nichols helped Nielsen cut a deal in which a dozen AS Solution employees would get concealed-carry permits in exchange for donations to an independent expenditure (IE) committee supporting Sheriff Smith’s 2018 re-election. West allegedly gave Nielsen $90,000 to that end, with $45,000 going to a pro-Smith IE called the Santa Clara County Public Safety Alliance about a month before the sheriff won her sixth term.

San Jose Inside’s inquiry about that conspicuously large donation prompted the DA to start investigating a possible link between Nielsen and the sheriff’s CCW permits.

Through their lawyers, Schumb, Jensen, Nahal and Nichols deny wrongdoing. Nielsen, who helped prosecutors collect evidence on the others, has not been charged.

Rosen said his office would reduce the charges against West if he keeps helping prosecutors and testifies honestly at court hearings.

“Mr. West has cooperated with this investigation and testified truthfully to the grand jury about the scope of this conspiracy and bribery scheme,” Rosen said in a prepared statement after court today. “The law recognizes, and common sense tells us, that a person who accepts responsibility for what he did, pleads guilty, and helps redress the harm he has caused, is deserving of mitigation and a lighter sentence.”

The investigation is still underway, according to the DA, who told reporters today that he plans to file more charges against more people in the coming weeks.

“We are not done,” Rosen said.

Jennifer Wadsworth is the news editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Email tips to [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth. Or, click here to sign up for text updates about what she’s working on.

18 Comments

  1. I am not concerned about John Chase. He has built a reputation and record that speaks for itself. But I am not surprised.

  2. Maybe for her next campaign Laurie Smith can display photos of these poor bastards accompanied by the boast: “Had I not been sheriff these white men would’ve never faced charges!”

  3. What a cesspool of corruption and graft on all sides.

    The real losers in this whole spectacle are the working taxpayers.

  4. Robinson will get right on that. I think Turkmenistan has no extradition papers so Rich Valachi can write his book.

  5. Excellent reporting as usual Wadsworth! This is an example of a reporter who actually read the motion and reported on it perfectly. Apparently she did more than Rosen did. When you combine this motion with a recent DQ motion brought by divorce attorney Valerie Houghton and her lawyer Chuck Smith, or by Leah Gillis based on the public records obtained related to the 6000 emails between Rosen’s office and Stanford Law Professor Michele Dauber, three questions come to mind:

    1. What has been happening to the poor and people of color in the county under a DA who refers to potential donors refers to as ” The Asians” while suggesting they have tea to get their donations?

    2. Why was Rosen more interested in raising so much money for two political campaigns where he had no opponent ?

    3. Are the Santa Clara County Supervisors just letting Rosen commit all kinds of crimes because they know if he turns his head to them, they are probably all going to prison longer than 18 months?

    Rosen has rigged elections. He is corrupted the courts and his relationships have so tainted our county it is time to send him back to Wisconsin, maybe Probation can help see him out !

  6. This is a messy line of inquiry. The assertion is that because both Rosen
    and Smith used the same political attorney, that he was an intermediary
    and co-ordinator of some mutually beneficial agenda. I mean I get Rosen
    is all about Rosen. But that he can be charged with a crime here? Seems
    unlikely.

  7. Seems like Shumb is trying to muddy the waters, but I am one person who has been skeptical over Rosen’s political activities ever since his involvement with Anthony Phan. Phan is a serial liar who has been caught misrepresenting a $30k loan from his parents as his own money (campaign finance fraud) and tried to use an anonymous committee to smear his council colleague as a communist – and so when a group of Phan’s supposed neighbors put together a petition claiming he didn’t live in their neighborhood, we should keep in mind that Phan has shown himself willing to deceive the public in larger ways. And yet Rosen, who had endorsed Phan and been endorsed by Phan, came out and made a public statement that his office “looked into it” and “found no evidence of a crime,” basically weasel words to say that he called Phan’s gradnma and she backed up Phan’s lie – of course, we can’t know for sure, because Rosen refused to say what “looking into it” entailed. But it’s worth noting that for the various other elected officials who have been accused loudly of the same thing, including Manh Nguyen and Magdalena Carrasco among others, Rosen never gave them the same statement of vindication. It was 100% a political favor to an incredibly shady politico.

  8. I am waiting to see if Rosen or Chase does anything regarding my documented evidence I sent to Rosen 8 days ago proving perjury against IHSS Manager Terri Possley and the crimes of criminal conspiracy, misuse of Federal, State and County public funds, bribery and coercion/extortion against Possley, Kingston Lum, former DAAS Director James Ramoni and Social Services Agency Director Robert Menicocci. And the conspiracy extends to County Counsel James Williams, Deputy County Counsel Bryan Anderson, the Personnel Board, Labor Relations and County crime boss Jeff Smith. The County Board of Supervisors know about this corruption scandal and they do not give a damn. They regard their seats as a welfare for the rich scheme. They simply celebrate everything crime boss Jeff Smith does. I am not holding my breath regarding Rosen or Chase, as they have legalized mail tampering in Santa Clara County after they refused to prosecute mail tampering by County officials in my mail box, caught on video, which can be seen on sccexposed.org. I am a Management Analyst in the Social Services Agency and a whistleblower. I am posting this information to put this news story in context. Rosen and Chase too often disregards the law and abuse their power. In the case reported in this story, sounds like conflict of interest imo.

  9. Evan, welcome to the club of Santa Clara County residents who were cheated by the corruption of Rosen, county supervisors, and the family and criminal systems, and club too of those who decided to expose them both in person and virtually. WE BELIEVE YOU! Most of the public officials in this county got too cozy and too corrupted. There has to be a very good reason as why county supervisors are complicit of Rosen’s ongoing pattern on criminal conduct and behavior!

  10. “ “Why was Rosen more interested in raising so much money for two political campaigns where he had no opponent ?”

    OHHHHHH!!!! Interesting question!!! You are RIGHT!! I never thought of that!

    Perhaps the CCW defendants could get a change of venue. The problem with that idea is I’m sure Rosen’s influence could be far and wide.

    We can’t wait to vote Rosen out.

    Excellent reporting!

  11. So, DA Jeff Rosen and Sheriff Laurie Smith share the same fixer? Sounds like a three-way relationship that isn’t destined to end well. Thank you @jennwadsworth for keeping on this story.

  12. Ya know , on a personal level I despise Chris Schumb cause I’ve had the misfortune of dealing with him. As a person who can’t do anything for Chris Schumb, he treated me like the gum on his shoe. I would love to see him do hard time in the slammer cause I have no doubt he’s been sleezing his way around this valley for a real long time. That said, I agree with him that Rosen shouldn’t be prosecuting this case, and I think there should be a change of venue. I mean really! If the pile who can hook Rosen up with One Direction tickets is the same drool Rosen is going to throw in the Pokey , then there is a definite conflict of interest. Let Schumb change the venue. He’s still guilty even with a different venue. It’s just going to be nice not to see Schumb at events here on the outside and that’s enough for me.

  13. Congratulations MS Wadsworth,
    What you have discovered under this manhole cover is the age old practice of PAY TO PLAY in a corrupt one party system. This is not on the level of dog eat dog but crocodile eat crocodile.
    You know how to fix it, DRAIN THE SWAMP!

  14. Thank you to this reporter for uncovering the scuzzy rock of privilege and immunity in this town. Chris Schumb has been bullying his way around this town for way too long and nobody has stopped him. Worse yet, so many have enabled him. If Rosen is capable of tolerating Schumb’s obnoxious privilege long enough to go to a football game with Schumb, then that’s enough for me not to trust Rosen. They all need to step down and we need to get a real government that is honest and represents the people.

  15. Is it any wonder why most politicians started their career as lawyers? From the early beginnings of their ever-swelling head, they learned that if they couldn’t handle losing then they’d do whatever they had to….to win. Lie, cheat, steal, coerce, influence, are just a few of their “learned” methods. Whatever it takes to win or move to the “next level”…of power, privledge, and position. It’s rather funny how those that learn how to defend and prosecute the law often are the ones breaking it the most. Rosen “being Rosen”, is this some sort of surprise? Raising $$$ when he doesn’t need to running un-opposed? Well, he’s not then but he will be eventually…as he moves “up the (his) ladder”. His ever growing “War Chest” will come in handy when he needs to fill his head with even more ego and then the greed from doing so will just be a formality. I think I understand “their type” well enough from 40+ years of knowing 2 closely through their “shady” behavior along with now going on 5 years waiting to finalize the divorce I filed for while recently crossing the $100k in joint costs and still not even having a court date yet. Now, there should be a law against that.

  16. Ha! Schumb is going to call Rosen as a character witness!? That’s just funny.? Is he serious or is he just doing his WG street bragadosha that he’s got a long reach and all. So who else is he going to call ? Everyone who has fundraised at his house? Kamala Harris? Jimmy Carter? Laurie Smith herself?California Teacher Assoc. ? Goodwill Industries? Hillbrook School? Where will it end? Is he going to get the whole SV disqualified so he never faces justices for everything he’s done all this time?

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