JULIE LEE FOUND GUILTY – SUPPLYING FALSE INFORMATION AND TRYING TO TAMPER WITH WITNESSES – SAN FRANCISCO CHINESE COMMUNITY POLITICAL ACTIVIST11 July 2008
Julie Lee, a political powerhouse in San Francisco’s Chinese American community, was found guilty Friday by a jury in Sacramento federal court of supplying false information and trying to tamper with witnesses after learning of inquiries about how she spent state grant money.
Specifically, the panel found Lee, 61, guilty on two counts of mail fraud in connection with cancelled checks mailed in 2004 to an administrator at the state Department of Parks and Recreation and an auditor at the state Controller’s Office.
Lee’s nonprofit organization, the San Francisco Neighbors Resource Center, received a $500,000 grant in 2000 through the Parks and Recreation Department for planning and development of a community services facility in the city’s heavily Chinese American west side.
The guilty finding on the mail fraud charges essentially means the jury adopted the prosecution’s evidence that Lee laundered $125,000 of the grant through six intermediaries into Kevin Shelley’s successful 2002 campaign for secretary of state.
By June 2004, she began to feel heat from FBI agents and state auditors following the trail of the funds.
The jury acquitted Lee on two other mail fraud counts that were based on bank statements mailed in 2004 to the two state officials.
The seven men and five women, who deliberated seven hours and five minutes over two days, also found Lee guilty on three counts of attempted witness tampering, based on recorded conversations she had in 2004 with three of the intermediaries and their trial testimony for the government.
Five of the six intermediaries and a Lee clerical employee testified against her under grants of immunity from the prosecutors.
Lee remains free on a $25,000 unsecured appearance bond pending sentencing Sept. 23.
After the verdict, defense lawyers Lidia Stiglich and Michael Hinckley declined to comment on behalf of themselves and their client, citing the fact Lee still faces similar charges in San Francisco Superior Court.
“We are pleased with the outcome,” said John Vincent, the government’s lead counsel and a highly regarded political corruption prosecutor.
“The jury was very attentive throughout the trial, and obviously gave careful consideration to the case.”
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