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Former sheriff’s rep for Los Altos Hills indicted

A grand jury has indicted the Santa Clara County undersheriff, a former liaison for the town of Los Altos Hills, for an alleged pay-to-play scheme involving concealed firearm (CCW) licenses offered for Apple iPads and San Jose Sharks hockey tickets.

County District Attorney Jeff Rosen announced charges against Rick Sung, 48, as well as charges against Sheriff’s Capt. James Jensen, 43; insurance broker Harpreet Chadha, 49; and Apple’s chief security officer Thomas Moyer, 50, Monday (Nov. 23).

Rick Sung
Sung

“The two-year investigation by the District Attorney’s Office revealed that Undersheriff Sung, aided by Captain Jensen in one instance, held up the issuance of CCW licenses, refusing to release them until the applicants gave something of value,” representatives from Rosen’s office wrote in a press release.

It is a crime to carry a concealed firearm in California without first obtaining a permit from a local law enforcement department. Licenses cost between $200 and $400.

Sung, who serves as second-in-command at the Sheriff’s Office below only Sheriff Laurie Smith, is charged with three counts of bribery by an executive officer, a felony. Jensen, who once served as public information officer for the West Valley Division, is also accused of felony bribery. Chadha and Moyer are charged with bribing an executive officer, another felony.

Sometime between Dec. 7, 2018, and Feb. 14, 2019, the Sheriff’s Office, through Sung, arranged for the use of Chadha’s luxury San Jose Sharks box in exchange for a CCW license, according to the indictment. Monday’s press release provides additional details about the hockey tickets, valued at $6,000: “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.”

The sheriff has not been charged with wrongdoing.

Between Feb. 8 and Aug. 7, 2019, Moyer promised a donation of 200 iPads worth approximately $70,000 based on assurances Sung and Jensen would give four CCW licenses to employees working in Apple’s security division, according to the DA’s press release. The deal fell through, however, when those involved learned about a search warrant to seize CCW records from the Sheriff’s Office.

Professions of innocence

Sung’s attorney, Chuck Smith, said his client looks forward to exoneration by a jury. He said Sung has maintained a close relationship with Apple and Moyer over the years in connection with his duties as a law enforcement officer and by legally assisting with efforts to secure permits for ensuring company executives’ safety. Smith also denied any connection between CCW permits and Chadha’s decision to offer his suite to the sheriff; he said Chadha obtained a gun license years prior.

“We contend that everything Rick did was legal, ethical, moral, professional, and he did nothing wrong,” attorney Smith said.

On Aug. 7, 2020, Rosen’s office announced a separate grand jury indictment against Jensen and three others related to accusations of felony bribery, record falsification and conspiracy. According to the indictment, Jensen arranged for the issuance of CCW licenses in exchange for a $90,000 campaign “donation” to the Santa Clara County Public Safety Alliance, a committee supporting Laurie Smith’s re-election bid, from AS Solutions, an international company that provides executive protection services, Jensen’s indictment revealed.

After submitting seven applications for licenses to Jensen, an AS manager allegedly wrote the committee a $45,000 personal check.

“The second installment was forestalled by the DA investigation,” according to an Aug. 7 press release from the DA’s Office.

Jensen’s attorney, Harry S. Stern, did not immediately respond to a Town Crier inquiry. Attorneys for Chadha and Moyer issued statements professing their clients’ innocence. Chadha’s lawyer, Guyton Jinkerson, alleged the indictment is retaliation for Chadha’s refusal to lie for investigators by saying the use of his Shark Tank box was a form of quid pro quo. Moyer’s lawyer, Ed Swanson, characterized his client as “collateral damage” in an ongoing dispute between the DA’s Office and the Sheriff’s Office.

Laurie Smith’s office published a statement in response to the indictments Monday.

“As law enforcement officers, we are held to the highest moral and ethical standards,” the statement reads. “This is a difficult time for our organization, however our goal remains to provide the highest level of public safety to the residents of Santa Clara County. The hundreds of men and women who represent the Sheriff’s Office will continue to serve our community with compassion, honesty and integrity.”

Both Sung and Jensen have been placed on administrative leave.

Sung previously served as the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office West Valley Patrol commander. That division provides law enforcement services to the cities of Cupertino, Saratoga, Los Altos Hills and the unincorporated areas of the western Santa Clara County, and Sung often attended Hills city council meetings between 2014 and 2016 to update council members and City Manager Carl Cahill about local crime. Upon Sung’s promotion four years ago, Capt. Rich Urena assumed his former role.

“Undersheriff Rick Sung served the Town very professionally in his role as Sheriff’s Captain,” Cahill wrote in an email sent to the Town Crier Wednesday. “He was always reachable, very responsive and took excellent care of the Town with regard to public safety.”

The arraignment hearings for Sung, Jensen, Chadha and Moyer are scheduled Jan. 11 within the Hall of Justice in San Jose. Attorney Smith said Sung plans to plead not guilty and proceed to trial if need be.

The defendants face potential prison time if convicted.

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