As former Supervisor Ed Jew’s legal troubles mounted, he began transferring ownership on the deeds for his properties; now, he is asking the federal court for $45,000 to help defray his legal costs.
The first sign of Jew’s legal trouble came on May 18, 2007, when federal agents raided his City Hall office, his Chinatown flower shop on Waverly Place, and his house in Burlingame.
He was later indicted by a federal grand jury for an alleged bribery scheme involving local tapioca shop franchise owners.
About six months after the raid, Jew began to change the deeds on his properties to pass ownership to family members. On Oct. 23, 2007, Jew transferred the deed of 112-122 Waverly Place, the flower shop, to his wife Lorene Chan, the Assessor-Recorder’s records show.
Nine days later, on Feb. 27, Jew transferred complete ownership on another property, at 1107-1111 Ocean Avenue, to David Jew, his brother, after transferring 50 percent of the property’s ownership to David Jew back in Oct. 2007.
On March 10, Jew changed the deed for a Burlingame property, putting it into a family trust.
Calvin Massey, a UC Hastings Law School professor, offered several possibilities about why someone in legal troubles might make such deed changes. A person could change deed of properties simply for compensation, Massey said. Alternately, they could be attempting to try and get one’s legal defense paid for by the government by unloading assets, or may be trying to protect the assets from creditors or legal penalties. Massey said that the deed transfer could be considered a fraudulent transaction if one does not receive fair value in return while at the same time owing money.
On Wednesday, Jew and his attorney, Stuart Hanlon, will be in federal court for a hearing on Jew’s request to use $45,000 of Criminal Justice Act funds, which are provided to those who cannot afford a defense, to pay for transcription and translation services related to audio surveillance recordings that prosecutors say help prove Jew was guilty of extortion during his time in office.
Hanlon said that the FBI’s translation of the tapes, which are mostly in Cantonese, may be inaccurate, and that Jew "doesn’t have enough money" to pay for new translations.
Federal prosecutors say Jew extorted $84,000 in cash bribes from owners of Quickly tapioca-drink franchises as well as another drink shop.
He was charged with two counts of mail fraud, two counts of bribery and one count of extortion.
Hanlon could not be reached Wednesday afternoon for comment on the deed changes.