When Santa Clara County DA. Jeff Rosen unveiled an indictment earlier this month in a pay-to-play CCW scandal he vowed to “vigorously pursue the truth, wherever it leads.”
So far, that pursuit has led him to Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith’s command staff and political supporters. (The top cop herself has not been charged in connection to bribes-for-concealed-weapons-permits allegations.)
But evidence laid out by prosecutors in hundreds of pages of records reviewed by San Jose Inside suggests it might also lead to the highest ranks of Silicon Valley’s most powerful companies—and to the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors.
Also accused of stretching the truth on concealed-carry forms is county Supervisor Mike Wasserman, whose district spans Los Gatos and the South Valley.
Though he isn’t accused of any crimes, the third-term elected apparently played hooky on a gun range certification in violation of state laws requiring proof of handgun proficiency each time a permit is renewed.
It’s hard to imagine why a well-staffed county officeholder who took the same test to renew his permit twice before would be oblivious to the law.
Especially one that’s clearly posted to the county’s website: California Penal Code section 26165, which mandates “live-fire shooting exercises on a firing range” for permit holders.
When confronted about the lapse late last month during a criminal grand jury, court transcripts reveal, Wasserman—who registered two Glock pistols—responded with long, rambling answers and frequent references to his poor memory.
Wasserman cited his forgetfulness for his inability to remember whether he’d gone to the county’s gun range for the assessment.
Prosecutors questioning him under oath testily coached the supervisor to stay focused as he veered into tangents about unrelated personal subjects.
“My memory is my Achilles heel,” he said, according to transcripts. ”I don’t recall the birth of my children. I don’t recall high school, college. I don’t recall my marriage—excuse me, my getting married. My mom calls me the absent-minded professor.”
The prosecutor interrogating Wasserman—John Chase, of the DA’s Public Integrity Unit—let him ramble on for quite a bit.
“People I don’t see often, I don’t recall,” the supervisor continued. “ I saw a person from the DA’s office a week or two ago, and while I was waiting to come in here, I thought I was talking to that same person in the waiting room and it was not that person. He said, ‘Oh, no, that’s not me.’ So when I’m walking with my staff and somebody is coming up towards me, it’s my staff’s job to tell me who is approaching so I can say, ‘Hi, Tom,’ or ‘Hi, Mary,’ because I just don’t—I don’t remember these things. I know I have been to Spain. I couldn’t tell you if I took my kids to Spain or if my parents took me as a child to Spain. Most people can’t understand that.”
Finally, Chase interjected.
“Let me just ask some questions about this case,” he admonished before asking about Smith loyalist Capt. James Jensen, the officer believed to have handled the CCW renewal.
“So did James Jensen ever take you to the range to do the shooting test?”
“I don’t recall,” Wasserman replied.
Despite Chase’s best efforts, Wasserman struggled to stay on point, bringing up random asides, such as the address of his childhood home and his family’s phone number during his boyhood. At one point, Chase cut him off with “OK. Are you finished?”
“I think so,” the South Valley supervisor replied. “Unless there is something I didn’t address that you would like me to.”
“No,” Chase said. “I just wanted to give you the full opportunity so that I can ask subsequent questions without necessarily having to go through that.”
While Wasserman dodges questions and accountability, the person believed to have processed his application faces some serious consequences.
According to the grand jury, Capt. Jensen, on April 6, 2019, “did willfully falsify the whole and any part” of Wasserman’s firearms proficiency form.
If convicted on the seven felony counts of falsification of public record by a custodial officer—for Wassesrman’s application and those of several bodyguards for Silicon Valley A-listers—Jensen faces up to 11 years in prison.
Jennifer Wadsworth contributed to this report.