Ed Jew speaks exclusively to ABC7

April 22, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
An exclusive interview with former San Francisco supervisor Ed Jew.

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"So, did you steal the money? Did you take the money?"asked ABC7's Vic Lee.

"No, I did not," said former San Francisco Supervisor Ed Jew.

Jew is referring to the $40,000 he received in bribe money from Chinese immigrant owners of tapioca drink shops who had permit problems with the city.

Jew says he was trying to do the right thing, albeit -- the wrong way.

"The money was going to playgrounds and special issues out in the Sunset," said Jew.

The FBI found $10,000 cash in his home wrapped in tin foil and stashed in a refrigerator. Jew says he was going to use the money for good causes and not for his personal gain.

"Then why did you put some of it in a refrigerator?" asked Lee.

"It was very naive. It was basically, I didn't know where to put it and I thought that was the safest place because going to a bank, you know what's happening to the banking industry. I don't know how to open a banking account for this money," said Jew.

The public may regard Jew as a disgraced politician. But he doesn't see himself that way. Jew is proud of his accomplishments as a San Francisco supervisor.

"Take care of potholes, clean the streets, make sure Muni runs efficiently. That was our priority," said Jew.

Earlier this month, a judge sentenced Jew to more than five years in federal prison for mail fraud, bribery and extortion.

"Are you remorseful?" asked Lee.

"I can say I'm disappointed at the way this whole ordeal happened. I thought what I did was what I saw others do and I realize now it was wrong," said Jew.

Jew won't name those politicians, but he says what he did was part of the culture of Chinatown politics.

"How was it done? What are you referring to?" asked Lee.

"They ask to donate money and then they would use some of that money to give to non-profit organizations and to basically promote themselves," said Jew.

"Politics an honorable profession? Something that people ought to go into just like you did?" asked Lee.

"I think politics is very dirty and it will probably stay that way. It's not a fair game with no rules, and there's a price one may have to pay," said Jew.

Jew says his only concern right now is to take care of his family. Jew's wife has breast cancer. They've had to move their daughter to another school because she was harassed by classmates.

He says prison is the last thing on his mind.

"My wife says, 'I'm afraid you're going to be killed in federal camp.' I said if it does, it does but at least, you're going to be taken care of. That's more important," said Jew.

"What are your future plans once you get out?" asked Lee.

"My future plans? When I get out? Spend more time with my daughter and my wife and, I don't know yet," said Jew.

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