Cupertino, CA – The head of security for Apple and two members of the Santa Clara Sheriff’s Office have all been indicted on bribery charges for their roles in a scheme to swap $70,000 in iPads for concealed-carry weapon (CCW) permits for Apple security staff.
The indictment released on Monday said the plan called for Apple to donate equipment – specifically 200 iPads – to the Santa Clara Sheriff’s Office in exchange for four CCW permits that had previously not been approved, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Santa Clara County Undersheriff Rick Sung, 48, Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Captain James Jensen, 43, Apple Chief Security Officer Thomas Moyer, 50, and insurance broker Harpreet Chadha, 49, were all named in the latest indictment.
The district attorney’s office said Undersheriff Sung and Capt. Jensen have been accused of soliciting bribes for CCW permits, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Moyer and Chadha stand accused of having offered bribes in exchange for the permits, according to Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen.
Rosen said the investigation began in 2018 after allegations surfaced of pay-to-play deals that leveraged concealed-carry permits in exchange for campaign contributions to Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith’s re-election bid, The Mercury News reported.
“Undersheriff Sung and Captain Jensen treated CCW licenses as commodities and found willing buyers,” Rosen said in a statement. “Bribe seekers should be reported to the District Attorney’s Office, not rewarded with compliance.”
“Call this quid pro quo, call it pay to play, call it give to get,” he continued. “It is illegal, and deeply erodes public confidence in the criminal-justice system. When high-ranking members of a law-enforcement agency are at the heart of a bribery scheme, it tarnishes the badge, the honor, and the reputations, and tragically the effectiveness of all law-enforcement agencies.”
The district attorney said the plan to swap the 200 iPads for four CCW permits was scrapped in August of 2019 after his office began serving search warrants on the campaign contribution investigation and seized all of the sheriff department’s CCW license records, The Mercury News reported.
California law requires applicants for CCW permits to demonstrate “good cause,” complete a firearms course, and have good moral character, but the sheriff has wide latitude to decide who ultimately receives such a permit.
The press release from the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office said the two-year investigation determined that Undersheriff Sung held up issuing CCW permits until the applicants gave him something of value in exchange.
Capt. Jensen helped the undersheriff in at least one of the deals, according to the press release.
Investigators determined that in addition to the bribes from Apple, Undersheriff Sung swapped Chadha $6,000 in luxury box seats at a San Jose Sharks hockey game in exchange for the CCW permit he had been denied, the district attorney’s office said.
Prosecutors said Sheriff Smith used the suite at the stadium to throw a re-election celebration party for her family and biggest campaign donors on Feb. 14, 2019.
Moyer’s attorney, Ed Swanson, said the Apple security boss got caught up in a rivalry between the district attorney and Sheriff Smith, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Swanson called Moyer’s charge “collateral damage.”
He said Apple donated devices on a regular basis and the agreement for 200 iPads for the sheriff’s department had nothing to do with the CCW permits, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Moyer’s attorney said the CCW permits were actually granted in March of 2019 before Apple had approved the $70,000 donation to Santa Clara County law enforcement.
“Apple applied for CCW permits the right way,” Swanson told the Los Angeles Times. “They didn’t make a bribe, they didn’t get asked to make a bribe, and the DA’s office has just gotten it wrong on this one.”
The lawyer for the insurance agent who allegedly swapped $6,000 in hockey tickets said the indictment of Chadha was retaliation for his client not conforming to prosecutors’ objectives, The Mercury News reported.
“The only quid pro quo is the one in which the district attorney’s office offered to not charge Mr. Chadha with a crime if he would testify that there was a quid pro quo in offering the sheriff’s office his box at the Shark Tank for the renewal of his concealed weapon permit,” attorney Guyton Jinkerson said. “When my client would not lie, he was indicted.”
Chuck Smith, attorney for Undersheriff Sung, also called the charges bunk, The Mercury News reported.
“There was no quid pro quo with Apple or Harpreet,” Smith said. “Apple has a history of donating supplies to law enforcement, and there’s no connection between the donation and permits.”
“[Chadha] wanted to do this gesture to allow the luxury suite to be used to celebrate Laurie Smith’s re-election. He has had a gun permit for a long time,” the undersheriff’s attorney added.
The complaint released by the district attorney’s office on Nov. 23 said the sheriff’s sergeant who handled Santa Clara County’s CCW permit applications had testified that Undersheriff Sung had ordered him to push through Chadha’s permit before the applicant’s fingerprints had been processed, The Mercury News reported.
These were not the first allegations of funny business surrounding CCW permits issued by Santa Clara County.
Capt. Jensen was indicted for bribery and conspiracy in August of 2019 along with political fundraiser Christopher Schumb, attorney Harpaul Nahal, and local gun-maker Michael Nichols, The Mercury News reported.
Prosecutors said that Capt. Jensen had arranged for up to a dozen CCW permits for executive security firm AS Solution in exchange for $90,000 in contributions to support Sheriff Smith’s hotly-contested re-election campaign.
Capt. Jensen, Schumb, Nahal, and Nichols have all pleaded not guilty and invoked their rights to a speedy trial, The Mercury News reported.
However, former AS Solution CEO Christian West and managers Martin Nielsen and Jack Stromgren all pleaded guilty to misdemeanor conspiracy charges and agreed to testify against Capt. Jensen, Schumb, Nahal, and Nichols in exchange for lesser sentences.
The defendants in the latest case will be arraigned at the Hall of Justice in San Jose on Jan. 11, the Los Angeles Times reported.