Four year sentence sought for Ed Jew

March 31, 2009 9:19:31 AM PDT
Prosecutors asked a federal judge today to sentence former San Francisco Supervisor Ed Jew to four years and nine months in prison for seeking to extort $80,000 in bribes from local businesses seeking permits.SIGN-UP: Get breaking news sent to you

Lawyers from the U.S. attorney's office wrote in a sentencing brief that Jew "used his position as an elected official to try to squeeze tens of thousands of dollars out of his unsophisticated constituents."

U.S. District Judge Susan Illston will sentence Jew on Friday for three counts of mail fraud, extortion and bribery.

Jew, 48, the owner of a Chinatown flower shop, pleaded guilty before Illston to the three federal criminal counts in October.

In November, he pleaded guilty in San Francisco Superior Court to a separate state charge of lying about his residence on documents when he ran for office in 2006.

Jew was elected to represent the city's Sunset District on the Board of Supervisors in November 2006. He was suspended from office by Mayor Gavin Newsom the following September and resigned in January 2008.

Federal prosecutors said in the sentencing memorandum that Jew sought to extort a total of $80,000 in bribes from owners of eight Quickly tapioca drink shops in exchange for his help in obtaining city permits.

Jew pleaded guilty to receiving a $40,000 bribe in cash from Quickly representatives on May 7, 2007, and to demanding a total of $80,000.

The prosecutors said he sought to "take advantage of unsophisticated, Cantonese-speaking small business owners" and "effectively created the problem for his victims" by bringing the Quickly stores to the attention of the Planning Department and then directing the department to send out notices of permit violations.

After learning in the spring of 2007 of allegations that Jew was extorting the shop operators, the FBI initiated an undercover operation and arranged to have Jew given the $40,000 bribe in marked bills at a meeting at his flower shop.

Agents found $10,000 of the marked bills wrapped in tin foil in a refrigerator during a search of Jew's Burlingame home on May 18, 2007.

That search and a search of Jew's apparently empty house in the Sunset District on the same day triggered questions about whether he lived in San Francisco while running for and serving in office as supervisor.

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