Weeks before a second criminal grand jury convened to hear prosecutors make their case about an alleged bribery plot, Santa Clara County Deputy District Attorney John Chase reached out to Harpreet Chadha’s lawyer with an offer.
In a proffer letter dated Oct. 19, Chase asked if client would testify for a chance to escape charges in potentially one of the biggest corruption scandals in South Bay history.
Attorney Guyton Jinkerson declined, however, refusing to validate what he called baseless claims that Chadha, 49, donated his Shark Tank suite to Sheriff Laurie Smith in hopes she’d renew his long-held concealed gun permit.
The local insurance broker has since found himself at the receiving end of an indictment accusing him of conspiring in a pay-to-play plot involving Apple’s top security official and the highest ranks of the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office.
Chadha’s attorney called the charges “a grave miscarriage of justice.”
“The only quid pro quo is the one in which the District Attorney’s Office offered to not charge Mr. Chadha with a crime if he would testify that there was a quid pro quo in offering the Sheriff’s Office his box at the Shark Tank for the renewal of his concealed weapon permit,” Jinkerson said. “When my client would not lie, he was indicted.”
Ed Swanson, the attorney for Apple global security chief Thomas Moyer, 50, issued a similar condemnation of the indictment accusing his client of bribing the Sheriff’s Office with 200 iPads in exchange for gun permits.
Swanson said the case stems from “a long, bitter and very public dispute” between DA Jeff Rosen and Sheriff Smith that’s turned Moyer into “collateral damage.”
“Tom Moyer is innocent of the charges filed against him,” Swanson told reporters on Monday. “He did nothing wrong and has acted with the highest integrity throughout his career. We have no doubt he will be acquitted at trial.”
Apple, meanwhile, has defended Moyer, saying a law firm hired to conduct an independent investigation found no evidence of wrongdoing.
The indictments unveiled this week claim that Undersheriff Rick Sung and Capt. James Jensen “managed to extract” a promise that Moyer would donate $70,000 worth of iPads to the Sheriff’s Office. Rosen said the gift was “scuttled at the 11th hour” in August last year after they learned about the DA serving search warrants on records related to the sheriff’s concealed carry weapons (CCW) permits.
According to Swanson, however, the Sheriff’s Office had issued the permits to Apple employees several months prior. Moyer had no authority to gift the iPads anyway, his attorney said—that was handled by a different department and part of the company’s widespread and longstanding practice of donating technology.
“Apple often makes contributions, both locally and worldwide,” Swanson explained. “In this case, the Sheriff’s Office was opening up a new training facility and Apple was considering making a donation of iPads.”
The decision to rope Moyer into this prosecution is “profoundly wrongheaded,” Swanson said. It also casts a shadow on a distinguished career. A U.S. Navy veteran who served in Desert Storm, Moyer went on to earn a law degree and become a well-respected attorney before joining Apple 14 years ago.
“His entire professional career has been founded on the belief that a good leader models ethics and integrity,” Swanson said, “and he does not deserve to have his good name tarnished by these baseless charges.”
That Chadha’s donation had anything to do with his gun permit, which he’d had since 2009, is just as much of a stretch, his attorney said.
About a month-and-a-half after a criminal grand jury issued the first indictments in the CCW case, John Chase, the prosecutor in charge of the DA’s Public Integrity Unit, began corresponding with Jinkerson about the case.
From Sept. 29 and through much of the following month, the two “had numerous conversations and exchanged many documents,” Jinkerson said.
The back-and-forth culminated with an Oct. 19 proffer letter in which Chase asked Chadha to help him out by testifying. Because of the expectations Chase laid out during their conversations those preceding weeks, that didn’t sit well with Jinkerson.
“John Chase repeated on several occasions that Mr. Chadha was of no value to the prosecution unless he were to testify that there was a quid pro quo,” Jinkerson recalled in an email to San Jose Inside.
After a thorough review of documents and four long discussions with Chadha that same week, Jinkerson told Chase in an Oct. 22 text message that they would call off a meeting with prosecutors that had been set for the next day.
“While it was not spoken, it was crystal clear that there would be no meeting because Mr. Chadha would not tailor his testimony to fit the prosecution’s theory of quid pro quo,” Jinkerson said. Twenty-eight minutes later, Chase emailed Jinkerson a notice that Chadha was the target of a forthcoming criminal grand jury inquiry.
To the Letter
On Oct. 29, Jinkerson sent a letter to Chase arguing that Chadha expected nothing in return for sharing his SAP Center suite with Sheriff Smith. Rather, it was one of many times over the past few decades that the local business owner offered the Shark Tank box as a gift to various organizations.
Chadha, who served in the Army of India in the 1990s, went on to become a respected leader in Silicon Valley, Jinkerson told Chase. Since the late ‘90s, Chadha has shared his San Jose Sharks season ticket box with the California Highway Patrol (CHP), families of CIA agents and various schools and nonprofits, among other recipients.
Jinkerson appended the seven-page missive with dozens of pages of corroborating attachments, including a spreadsheet of all the times Chadha lent out his hockey suite in the past several years, as well as written statements from community leaders affirming that they were never asked for repayment.
When Chadha allowed Sheriff Smith, her family and political supporters to use his Shark Tank suite on Valentine’s Day 2019, it had nothing to do with her renewing his CCW permit the day prior. The timing, Jinkerson argued in his October letter to prosecutors, “is not relevant unless he acted with specific intent that giving the ticket was a quid pro quo for receiving the permit renewal.”
On Nov. 6, Jinkerson sent a follow-up letter to Chase with additional character statements, including from former CHP San Jose commander Cathy Wayne and U.S. Army Special Forces Major Jeffery F. Andriliunas, who commended Chadha for trying to foster relationships between civilians, military members and law enforcement.
“Based on what I know of the relevant facts, as well as the voluminous exculpatory documents that I furnished to the prosecutor to be made available to the grand jury,” Jinkerson told San Jose Inside on Monday, “this indictment of Harpreet Chadha appears to be a grave miscarriage of justice.”
Chadha, Moyer, Sung and Jensen are set to be arraigned on Jan. 11.
Trials related to previous indictments in the case are on hold while the 6th District Court of Appeals reviews a request to disqualify Rosen because of potential conflicts of interest over his personal and political ties with one of the defendants, prominent Silicon Valley litigator Christopher Schumb.
Schumb has already entered a not guilty plea along with co-defendants Jensen, lawyer Harpaul Nahal and The Gun Co. owner Michael Nichols.
Christian West, Martin Nielsen and Jack Stromgren—formerly affiliated with executive protection firm AS Solution—have all pleaded guilty.