Kelly’s lawyers also argued that Wong’s actual bribes to city officials – like Nuru – came in the form of thousands of dollars of cash stuffed into envelopes. If he were truly bribing Kelly, why not do that, instead of offering construction work on his home?
That home construction work was also shoddy, and even over-charged, an expert witness brought by the defense said on the witness stand. While Wong tried to fix a water leak, photos showed water stains streaking Kelly’s Inner Sunset-home.
“If this was a complex elaborate bribery scheme, would [Walter Wong] have done that?” Baum said.
Perhaps most pointedly, however, the defense made sure to remind the jury that Wong stands to see his own bribery-related sentence reduced for cooperating as a witness, an idea they argued influences everything he said.
Judge Seeborg instructed jurors to treat Wong’s testimony with “greater caution” than that of the other witnesses for that same reason.
Despite alleged bribes, Kelly’s influence didn’t always help Wong. But that doesn’t mean a crime wasn’t committed
Prosecutors showed reams of evidence highlighting how Kelly inappropriately aided Wong in navigating an LED streetlight contract with the city. Kelly even went so far as to stuff confidential documents into a manila folder, later handing them to Wong out on the street, they said.
But that didn’t mean Wong had any luck winning his bid.
When ranking companies who had thrown their hat in the ring for the city contract, Wong’s company ranked 47th out of 51 total bidders.
“Can we say that was dead last?” Baum, the defense attorney, said. “The most important thing to think about is, what happened? [Prosecutors would] argue this information was very valuable. But what were the results?”
Even on the witness stand, Wong’s son, Washington Wong, admitted their attempts to game the system were fruitless.
“In the grand scheme of things, no, it didn’t seem to help,” Washington Wong said.
But in his instructions to the jury, Judge Seeborg reminded them that Kelly need only have agreed to commit an act to have acted corruptly. And Green, one of the prosecutors, underscored that to the jury.
“Walter Wong didn’t win the LED lights contract. Under the law, that doesn’t matter,” she said. What matters is if jurors decide they corrupted the process.
Kelly allegedly flouted the rules, but emails and text messages showed he knew the law
Kelly hoped to keep much of his communications with Wong and other co-conspirators outside of the spotlight.
He wrote in a 2018 email “I’m not the only one who sees my email at work – I have some staff with access because I get a lot of emails and can’t be reading, and responding, to every one. Also emails sent to me are public record.”
Subsequently, many of his emailed communications with Wong are from Kelly’s personal Yahoo email. It’s a problem known to happen in the city writ large – citizen journalist “Anonymoose” found plenty of city officials trying to hide their communications by skirting the city’s open records law.