For release on August 7, 2020
Public Communications Officer
County Sheriff’s Captain, Prominent Lawyer Charged with Gun Permit Bribery Scheme
A Santa Clara County Sheriff’s captain, a gun parts manufacturer, and two local lawyers – one a prominent political backer - have been indicted by a grand jury on felony bribery and conspiracy charges.
Captain James Jensen, attorney Christopher Schumb, attorney Harpaul Nahal, and business owner Michael Nichols are accused of conspiring with the CEO and a middle manager of AS Solution, Inc., an international security company, to offer a $90,000 bribe to obtain concealed firearms permits (CCW licenses) for the company’s executive protection agents. This all took place in 2018, while Sheriff Laurie Smith — who had the authority to grant the CCW licenses — was in a hard-fought race for reelection, both in the primary and general elections.
The defendants are expected to be arraigned on the charges August 31, 2020 at the Hall of Justice in San Jose. If convicted, the defendants could receive prison time.
The DA’s Office is continuing to investigate more crimes and other individuals related to the issuance of CCW licenses. “Our concern is not whether the Sheriff grants many or few CCW licenses, but whether they are being granted or denied for the wrong reasons,” District Attorney Jeff Rosen said. “CCW licenses should not be given out in exchange for campaign donations. They should not be for sale.”
The DA’s investigation began shortly after the general election in 2018, sparked by an inquiry from the Metro Silicon Valley weekly about executive security licensing and an extremely large campaign donation, which was reported in public filings. The investigation found that weeks after the scheme was hatched, the conspirators settled on a $90,000 “donation” in exchange for 10 to 12 CCW licenses. After submitting 7 CCW license applications to Jensen at a meeting, AS Solution manager Martin Nielsen donated the first half of that amount to the Santa Clara County Public Safety Alliance (“PSA”), an independent expenditure committee supporting Sheriff Smith. The $45,000 personal check, which Nielsen handed to the PSA’s assistant treasurer, Schumb, represented more than half of the funds raised by the PSA before the election that year. The second installment was forestalled by the DA investigation.
In addition to bribery, the indictment charges Jensen with conspiring with AS Solution employees to put false information in their CCW license applications. Jensen advised Nielsen to instruct AS Solution employees who were not residents of Santa Clara County to use local corporate addresses as their residence addresses in their applications.