Former San Francisco Supervisor Ed Jew was sentenced by a federal judge today to five years and four months in prison for seeking to extort $80,000 from small businesses that were seeking city permits.U.S. District Judge Susan Illston said Jew’s conduct was “public corruption” and said the multiyear sentence was needed to send a message that it was unacceptable.The judge said, “I don’t think this was a lapse in judgment or a poor decision. This was a corrupt act.”Illston said, “This is not the way things are done in this city. It’s important for Mr. Jew to understand that and it’s important for everyone else to understand that.” jew, 48, pleaded guilty in October to three counts of mail fraud, extortion and bribery, admitting to seeking cash from the owners of Quickly tapioca drink shops in exchange for a promise to help them obtain city permits.The sentence, pronounced in Illston’s Federal Building courtroom in San Francisco, was even more than the four years and nine months recommended by prosecutors. Jew’s defense attorney, Stuart Hanlon, had asked for a prison term of one year and one day.Hanlon argued that Jew intended to use the money for community projects and that his judgment was impaired by a brain injury suffered when he was hit by a motorcycle at age 8.But Illston interjected, “He couldn’t have thought it was right.”Jew told the judge, “I’m deeply sorry for my acts. What I did was wrong. I know that now. My intentions were always to help others.” Prosecutor Tracie Brown said Jew was “a high-ranking elected official who victimized the very people” he was elected to serve.She argued that recording transcripts and a videotape of Jew’s meetings with Quickly representatives in 2007 didn’t show brain impairment on the supervisor’s part, but rather an “ability to manipulate.” Illston also fined Jew $10,000. She ordered him to begin serving the sentence July 1.For purposes of calculating the sentence, Illston said Jew intended to cause the victims to lose a total of $80,000 and that the victims were vulnerable.”The victims not only didn’t speak English but were unfamiliar with government processes,” Illston said.
Jew, the owner of a Chinatown shop, was elected to represent the city’s Sunset District in November 2006. He was suspended from office by Mayor Gavin Newsom in September 2007 and resigned in January 2008.Prosecutors said he sought a total of $80,000 in bribes from eight Quickly shop operators and received $40,000 of that amount at a meeting in his flower shop on May 7, 2007. The FBI found $10,000 of the cash in marked bills wrapped in foil in the refrigerator of Jew’s Burlingame home 11 days later.That search and a search on the same day of Jew’s apparently empty Sunset District house raised questions about where Jew lived. In November, he pleaded guilty in San Francisco Superior Court to a separate state charge of lying about his residence when he ran for office. He is due to be sentenced on that charge on April 17.
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