SAN JOSE — A state appellate court on Friday reversed a Santa Clara County judge’s 2021 decision to drop a bribery charge against an Apple security executive who was accused of offering a large iPad donation to the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office to get concealed-gun licenses for his security agents.
That means for the time being, Thomas Moyer — who runs global security operations for the tech titan — will head back toward trial in the South Bay for charges that were part of a massive scandal involving former Sheriff Laurie Smith that accused her administration of leveraging the sought-after weapons permits for political donations and other in-kind favors.
Two sets of criminal grand jury indictments are making their way through the court system, with Smith’s former undersheriff and a top commander and advisor still facing criminal charges, and several co-conspirators facing prison sentences after becoming prosecution witnesses.
Smith was never criminally charged. She retired last year after a civil grand jury filed corruption accusations against her, which was followed by a civil trial jury finding her guilty of many of the same allegations in the criminal case. The civil outcome formally removed her from office, which was entirely symbolic since she had already signaled her retirement.
In June 2021, county Superior Court Judge Eric Geffon ruled that the criminal grand jury that indicted Moyer the previous year “could not have reasonably concluded that Moyer had a corrupt intent with respect to the donation of iPads to affect the issuance of CCW permits because he did not act to (sic) wrongfully to gain an advantage.”
Geffon sided with the contention by Moyer’s attorneys that no bribery motive existed because the permits eventually issued to four Apple security employees in early 2019 had already been approved by the sheriff’s office by the time he proposed donating 200 iPads to the agency’s training division. In the criminal indictment, former Undersheriff Rick Sung and sheriff’s Capt. James Jensen are accused of holding up those permits to procure what would eventually become the proposed donation.
But Friday’s ruling by the Sixth District Court of Appeal, which came two years after the District Attorney’s Office challenged Geffon’s dismissal of Moyer’s bribery charge, came to the opposite conclusion.
“Consistent with the Ninth Circuit’s interpretation of California law, federal law and the law in many states, we conclude that such a promise may constitute a bribe,” the ruling reads. “We also conclude that the evidence presented to the grand jury was sufficient to raise a reasonable suspicion of such bribery. Accordingly, we reverse the trial court’s order dismissing the bribery count against Moyer, reinstate that count, and remand for further proceedings.”
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Later in the ruling, the appellate court added that “The evidence presented to the grand jury … created a reasonable suspicion (and therefore permitted the grand jury to find) that Moyer proposed the iPad donation principally for another purpose: to secure release of Apple’s CCW licenses.”
Attorneys who represented Moyer in both the trial court and appellate court arguments could not be immediately reached for comment Friday.
District Attorney Jeff Rosen, who said at the time of Geffon’s dismissal that he stood by the criminal grand jury’s indictment, weighed in Friday.
“Moyer is right back where he should be,” Rosen said. “On the trial calendar and charged with bribery.”
This is a developing story. Check back later for updates.