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Milpitas gun shop owner admits to bribery scheme involving Sheriff Laurie Smith's administration

PIX Now - Morning Edition 11/3/23
PIX Now - Morning Edition 11/3/23 09:31

A Milpitas gun shop owner admitted his involvement in a bribing scheme with the past Santa Clara County sheriff's administration, prosecutors said.

Michael Nichols, 48, pleaded guilty to a conspiracy to solicit a bribe under former Sheriff Laurie Smith's administration, trading concealed firearms permits for various donations, including supporting Smith's re-election campaign, the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office said in a statement Thursday.

Prosecutors said Nichols was an essential middleman in the scheme, introducing executives at AS Solution Inc., a company seeking gun permits, to local lawyers and former Capt. James Jensen of the Sheriff's Office.

The businessman also helped arrange meetings that led to the company's agreeing to pay $90,000 in exchange for a dozen or more permits. The first $45,000 went to a political action committee, which used it to support Smith's successful re-election bid. According to the District Attorney's Office, the conspirators were working on the second $45,000 payment when the authorities' investigation interrupted the scheme.

"The community must be assured that government services -- especially those involving public safety -- are provided according to need, not bribes," District Attorney Jeff Rosen said in a statement.

Smith, who served as sheriff for over two decades, was found guilty last year of six civil counts of corruption and willful misconduct for her part in the scheme. She stepped down three days before she was convicted.

Jensen and four others who were part of the scheme still face gun permit bribery cases.

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