By Luke Thomas
July 6, 2012
San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón signaled today his office is prepared to file criminal charges should the Ethics Commission determine Mayor Ed Lee perjured himself while providing sworn testimony in is his bid to remove suspended Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi from office.
“If the evidence surfaces that we have sworn testimony to indicate that perjury has taken place, then we will certainly evaluate whether that will be appropriate to prosecute,” Gascón said during a press conference at the Hall of Justice. “At this point, we need to let the Ethics Commission do its work.”
“At this point, all that we have is newspaper reports and we have hearsay information that has not been subjected to cross-examination – and it is certainly not testimony that is sworn testimony.”
Allegations of perjury first surfaced June 29 when the mayor denied under direct examination by Mirkarimi defense attorney Shepard Kopp that he spoke to any members of the Board of Supervisors – the eleven-member body that will ultimately decide if Mirkarimi will keep his job – about Mirkarimi prior to suspending him.
Lee also denied he offered Mirkarimi, via an intermediary, a job in exchange for Mirkarimi’s resignation.
Both denials are being challenged and have taken center stage in the case that was triggered when Lee suspended the sheriff without pay March 20 and filed charges of official misconduct against Mirkarimi following Mirkarimi’s plea and sentencing on March 19 to one misdemeanor count of false imprisonment stemming from a heated argument with his wife, Eliana Lopez, on December 31 that resulted in a bruise on Lopez’s right arm.
Both Lopez and Mirkarimi have maintained from the outset that the zealous nature of Mirkarimi’s prosecution is politically motivated.
Perjury is considered a serious offense as it can be used to usurp judicial power resulting in miscarriages of justice. If the allegations are proved to be true, the mayor would himself have committed official misconduct in an official misconduct case and squandered an opportunity to remove a political rival from office.
Building Inspections Commissioner Debra Walker, a Mirkarimi ally and friend to Lee-appointed District 5 Supervisor Christina Olague, told reporters that Olague told Walker that Lee sought Olague’s opinion in March as to what she thought he should do about Mirkarimi before moving to suspend him.
Walker made the claim following an abrupt adjournment of the quasi-judicial probe due to a false bomb threat following Lee’s alleged perjury.
The non-recorded bomb threat was made to a direct number at Mission Station, police said. No other details of the call will be made available to the public until an internal SFPD investigation has been completed.
Olague subsequently denied she had any conversations with the mayor or Walker about the Mirkarimi case, but has said she may have to recuse herself from voting on the matter.
And in the latest challenge to Lee’s credibility, former Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin, who called for Mirkarimi’s resignation on March 20, confirmed he was contacted March 19 by Walter Wong, a politically connected developer and former permit expediter with strong ties to Lee, to negotiate on behalf of the mayor and to offer Mirkarimi a City job in exchange for the sheriff’s resignation.
“It is true I was contacted by Walter Wong,” Peskin told the San Francisco Examiner, “and it is true he said his outreach was on behalf of the mayor.”
Walker, Olague, Peskin and Wong are each expected to be subpoenaed in the case to testify under penalty of perjury, Kopp said.
The hearing is set to resume July 18 when Lopez is expected to testify.