U.S.A. –-(AmmoLand.com)- A Santa Clara County, California grand jury has issued indictments accusing two-county Sheriff’s Office officials, a local business owner and the Global Security chief for Apple, Inc., with bribery in an alleged effort to trade iPads in exchange for concealed carry licenses for Apple employees.
A news release from the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s office named Undersheriff Rick Sung, Sheriff’s Capt. James Jensen, Apple Chief Security Officer Thomas Moyer, and insurance broker Harpreet Chadha as the subjects of the indictments.
AmmoLand News spoke directly with Sean Webby, public communications officer for the District Attorney’s office, who said the defendants will be arraigned on Jan. 11, 2021. At that hearing, he said, the court will determine whether there is enough evidence “to go forward to a trial.”
According to CNET, a newsgroup that covers the tech industry, the indictments came following a two-year investigation into the sheriff’s office. The San Jose Mercury News is also reporting on the charges.
“Undersheriff Sung and Captain Jensen treated CCW licenses as commodities and found willing buyers,” DA Jeff Rosen alleged. “Bribe seekers should be reported to the District Attorney’s Office, not rewarded with compliance.”
In the DA’s prepared statement, the office further alleged, “In the case of four CCW licenses withheld from Apple employees, Undersheriff Sung and Cpt. Jensen managed to extract from Thomas Moyer a promise that Apple would donate iPads to the Sheriff’s Office. The promised donation of 200 iPads worth close to $70,000 was scuttled at the eleventh hour just after August 2, 2019, when Sung and Moyer learned of the search warrant that the District Attorney’s Office executed at the Sheriff’s Office seizing all its CCW license records.”
In Chadha’s case, the statement alleged, “Sung managed to extract from Chadha a promise of $6,000 worth of luxury box seat tickets to a San Jose Sharks hockey game at the SAP Center on Valentine’s Day 2019. Sheriff Laurie Smith’s family members and some of her biggest political supporters held a small celebration of her re-election as Sheriff in the suite.”
Concealed carry permits are not easy to obtain in Santa Clara County. California is a discretionary issue state, so each law enforcement agency can be as generous or as tight with carry permits.
According to Rosen’s office, “The various fees required to obtain a CCW license generally total between $200 and $400.”
In California, as in most other states that do not have so-called “constitutional carry” statutes, carrying a concealed firearm without a license or permit is a crime. The District Attorney’s news release acknowledged “Although state law requires that the applicant demonstrate “good cause” for the license, in addition to completing a firearms course and having good moral character, the sheriff has broad discretion in determining who should qualify.”
According to the CNET report, “Moyer’s attorney insisted on his innocence of the charge and said he was ‘collateral damage’ in a bitter public dispute between the Sheriff’s Department and DA’s office.”
The story quoted Moyer’s attorney, Ed Swanson, who said in a statement his client “did nothing wrong and has acted with the highest integrity throughout his career. We have no doubt he will be acquitted at trial.”
Over the years, gun rights activists have contended that “discretionary issue” laws can easily create an environment where the process can be abused, with permits being issued only to certain officials, wealthy elites, or political supporters of the local sheriff. That does not appear to be what is alleged in the Santa Clara County case, however, but a straight instance of alleged bribery.
AmmoLand checked and found that as far back as 2011 there were complaints about how Santa Clara County issued carry permits. In December 2011, the California County News reported, “Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith is under fire over her department’s process for awarding concealed weapons permits. For instance, a former police officer who owned an investigative firm had his permit request turned down by Smith, so now the Sheriff’s Department is facing a lawsuit for allegedly handing out the permits in an arbitrary manner.”
Smith is still sheriff.
Other states have “shall issue” requirements that mandate that applicants who pass background checks and meet any other statutory requirements must be issued a carry license or permit.
Earlier this year, a group of gun rights organizations including the Second Amendment Foundation, National Rifle Association, Firearms Policy Coalition, California Association of Federal Firearms Licensees, Inc., and California Gun Rights Foundation sued several Bay Area governments including Santa Clara County over regulations that allegedly banned the operation of gun stores and shooting ranges.
They were joined by at least four businesses and several individual citizens. That lawsuit was filed in federal court.
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