Ex-CEO of California Security Firm Pleads Guilty in Pay-to-Play CCW Scheme

Concealed carry permits are hard to come by in Santa Clara, Ca. — unless you make a “donation” to the right people.

In a surprise development, an ex-CEO for a California security firm pleaded guilty this week to his role in a pay-to-play scheme in which his employees received coveted concealed carry permits in exchange for a campaign contribution to the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s reelection campaign, according to The Mercury News.

Christian West was the CEO of AS Solutions, a high-profile security firm that handled protection for Facebook and Google executives. As GunsAmerica reported previously, employees at AS Solutions have been under investigation for donating $45,000 to long-time Santa Clara Sheriff Laurie Smith in exchange for concealed carry permits.

Though Smith has yet to face any charges, investigators have charged four people in connection with the scheme, including one of Smith’s captains, James Jensen. West had been charged with two separate felony conspiracy counts, but his charges have been downgraded to misdemeanors in exchange for his cooperation, Mercury News reports.

Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen has not said whether his office is close to indicting Smith, but he did tell reporters that he expects to file more charges.

“As we gather more evidence, we expect to file more charges against more individuals in the coming weeks. We are not done,” he said.

SEE ALSO: California Sheriff Under Investigation for Pay-to-Play Concealed Carry Permits

According to the grand jury indictment, Jensen got connected with AS Solutions via a local gun parts manufacturer named Michael Nichols and attorneys Harpaul Nahal and Christopher Schumb. Nichols owns The Gun Company, which sells custom CZ and Glock handguns.

Schumb encouraged AS Solutions manager Martin Nielsen to meet up with Jensen at a S.W.A.T. competition called “Best in the West” hosted by the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office.

Nichols introduced Nielsen to Jensen, and they agreed in principle to the pay-to-play CCW scheme.

Jensen, Nahal, Schumb, and Nichols have all been charged with felonies related to bribery, conspiracy, and falsifying records.

Nielsen, whose initial $45,000 check spurred the investigation, has not been charged, according to Mercury News, but he has been cooperating with investigators and helping gather evidence against the defendants.

SEE ALSO: Assemblywoman: ‘You can’t get the semiautomatic ammunition in California’

Gun owners have long suspected “may-issue” gun permit localities are rife with abuse and incompetence. The Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office has been one of the most high-profile examples, and the problems go beyond corruption. Along with the pay-to-play scheme, the office suffered from a “haphazard” approval process with “inconsistent criteria” for who received the rarely-issued weapons permits, according to public information officer testimony obtained by Mercury News.

While other counties like Sacramento County has issued more than 5,000 permits, Santa Clara County has only issued or renewed about 150.

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About the author: Jordan Michaels has been reviewing firearm-related products for over six years and enjoying them for much longer. With family in Canada, he’s seen first hand how quickly the right to self-defense can be stripped from law-abiding citizens. He escaped that statist paradise at a young age, married a sixth-generation Texan, and currently lives in Tyler. Got a hot tip? Send him an email at jordan@gunsamerica.com.

{ 23 comments… add one }
  • Charles Jennings September 8, 2020, 6:33 am

    This the Chynese template of of behaviour.

  • Thomas September 6, 2020, 6:45 pm

    Regans biggest mistake was amnesty for illegal aliens . I didn’t know he helped mess up California too. People with common sense leave California as soon as they can ,two weeks staying with a vice cop convinced me California was a terrible place to visit much less to live.

  • trail September 6, 2020, 5:43 pm

    ccp’s are hard to come by in CA. period. there is no open carry or concealed carry. theyve made it so hard now to get a ccp its virtually impossible, fees , classes,etc, ultimately up to the sheriff. thus we have this corruption.
    ca is joke. your right to self defense in public is gone. if you are attacked in public or your car, you cannot defend yourself except by hand or knife or some other weapon you may have on you. you are a potential victim everytime you step outside your house. most likely a victim of crime if it happens bc you just have to take a beatdown and mugging and then possible get sued or charged for fighting back. not to mention the risk of bodily harm. this is socialism and the way democrats want us to live. they want to have all the control, power and weapons. and we are the sheep in their flock.. making us completely dependent on the government for our safety and security. California is a soon to be military police AND surveillance state. even though the Dems talk about police reform…fat chance. no choice but to grow government in an anti gun state. and gun free zones? … please. like putting up a sign that says come rob me. governor Newsom says control control works decreases crime. then why did Ca have more mass shootings in 2019 than any other state? bc gun control kills innocent people! by denying their right to carry and self defense.

  • Norm September 5, 2020, 3:46 pm

    I am amazed about the ignorance of Americans Are we that stupid not to realize that we NO LONGER have a Government ? Nor are we protected by our constitution Why? Because we are a corporate structure. All countries are operating as businesses. And being governed under the 1992 multilateral treaty known as Agenda 21. Aka The Rio Declaration. This is a fact not theory in fact. President John F Kennedy warned us back in the 1960’s when he foretold what we are seeing happen now quote : “Those who have made themselves our enemy are advancing around the globe” (talking about the secret societies in our government) aka The federal reserve, the international monetary system and bankers) He called this “A monolithic and ruthless conspiracy that relies primarily on coveted means”. AMERICANS I REPEAT THIS IS NOT A LEFT, RIGHT, DEM OR REPUBLICAN ISSUE WAKE THE HECK UP AND START SEEING THIS FOR WHAT IT IS!!!! We are no longer sovereign, we are a corporate structure!!! STOP BEING PITTED AGAINST ONE ANOTHER! Divide and conquer comes to mind. Enough said!

  • Don September 4, 2020, 6:10 pm

    I do hope the sheriff and her co-conspirators all go to jail, even if for a short time. They need the conviction on their record.

  • Johnny September 4, 2020, 4:26 pm

    It’s like the Operation Varsity Blues scandal of the [Calfornia] gun world!

  • Hoopster September 4, 2020, 4:05 pm

    When I read about all these democratic left-wing corrupt assholes!! Who don’t give a shit about the public safety, especially in these turbulent times where are man or woman can’t get shot in their car for just looking at somebody the wrong way driving down your lovely California freeways!
    It sure as hell makes me glad that I live in a state where the police are thankful that almost concealed carry’s!!
    And in Utah we don’t take any shit, and we all that legally carry a gun are pleased to back up our police officers whenever they need help in any situation, and would die for any of them!! Because they do such a damn good job and have done for years thank God I live in Utah where at least you can exercise your Second Amendment.

    PS one more thing that all of these dumb ass left-wing bureaucratic assholes understand but don’t care, is a criminal living in California can pick up any type of weapon he wants on the street anytime of the night! That includes fully automatic, high Pistols, you name it you can buy it in California if you know the right people, because the whole place is full of thugs right now and that’s why you guys are all broke out there enjoy your stay, you guys made it that way living it love it!

  • Michael J September 4, 2020, 3:55 pm

    Those accused of wrong doing must also include the agency who takes the bribe. This is like the colleges taking money for favors but only those who ask get procecuted.

  • Craig Morgan Butelo September 4, 2020, 12:15 pm

    Who makes that amazing holster in your pic?

  • KSG September 4, 2020, 11:13 am

    I applied for a ccw in the bay area and the local sheriff’s department wanted 3 years tax returns? Needless to say i was denied.

    • OldGuy September 4, 2020, 1:51 pm

      So exactly why is producing 3-years of past tax returns directly relevant to protecting either yourself or your family?

  • John Stanton September 4, 2020, 9:29 am

    Does this mean that the paradise that is california is subject to the same criminals in power as the rest of the left run states and cities? Say it ain’t so. I live in illinois so I know how the left operates for decades, all to the detriment of fiscal policy, safety and “good” government.

    • Janet Tomkins September 4, 2020, 4:50 pm

      Of course CA gov’t operates the same as the mafia and other criminal organizations. When everything normal is illegal even the good guys are likely to break some laws and the bad people ignore them all. Welcome to leftist utopia.

  • srsquidizen September 4, 2020, 8:11 am

    Exactly why state CCP laws should be “shall issue” (upon applicant meeting all requirements), and that’s the way it is in states governed by legislators who have respect for the Second Amendment. These laws requiring arbitrary approval by bureaucrats, for the purpose of granting as few citizens as possible their basic right to self-defense, will always end up being influenced by politics and subjective personal opinions. Such laws are unfair, unconstitutional, corrupt, discriminatory and elitist.

    • Rattlerjake September 4, 2020, 2:38 pm

      You’re an idiot, and obviously don’t understand the 2D amendment at all! There should be NO CCW laws PERIOD! And states governed by legislators who have respect for the Second Amendment don’t have anti-second amendment laws!

  • Gary September 3, 2020, 12:39 pm

    They have the woman RED HANDED!! They have arrested two people that got permits from HER, that was paid to supply them..Yet AGAIN the POLITITION keeps on walking!!!
    Who’s shocked??…anyone..??..Bueller??

    • David Einspahr September 4, 2020, 4:56 pm

      It is the new civil war, the rich and powerful against the common folk. Vote Republican in November or be crushed. And vote in person. Go to the polls on election day because that makes it much more difficult for the bad guys to steal, modify or invalidate your vote. Mailed in ballots go through many hands between you and the vote counters and have a high likelihood of disappearing if you didn’t vote for the candidate that the left prefers.

  • Paul September 3, 2020, 12:31 pm

    If we are so safe from crime and we don’t need to protect ourselves, then why do the elite need extra protection?

    • Tina Roberts September 4, 2020, 4:58 pm

      Seems odd, doesn’t it, that the rich can rant against your right to self-defense and your right to arm yourself but they hire 24/7 armed security for themselves. I don’t think they understand the concept of hypocrisy.

  • Howard September 3, 2020, 8:28 am

    As a former Santa Clara County Deputy Sheriff from the 60’s/70’s era, I am sadden to read about this! Our Department used to be held in the highest regard, not only among other law enforcement agencies in the area, but by many in the criminal element as well. As an example, I once issued a traffic citation to the uncle of my Patrol Division Captain. When I told him about it, he asked if it was a good cite, to which I said “yes”, and he said, “Let it stand!”. I’ve worked in the detention division and had arrestees brought in fighting the arresting officer(s), only to stop upon seeing a Deputy, and changing into a compliant prisoner, based only upon our reputation for fair treatment of prisoners! Have to put the blame on CA’s outrageous gun control policies which, to an extent, have created an environment that perpetuate this type of behavior!

    • Rattlerjake September 4, 2020, 2:48 pm

      And for all of those conservatives who love Ronnie Raygun, those outrageous CA gun control policies originated with Ronnie’s signing of the Mulford Act in 1967, as governor of Commiefornia!

      • James McGreggor September 4, 2020, 5:02 pm

        Ronnie was generally a good guy but he screwed up a few times. Perhaps you have made a mistake or two in your life? Unfortunately, that one was a whopper and with the crazies in full control now, is unlikely to ever be repaired short of a major uprising of the voters.

      • trail September 6, 2020, 6:03 pm

        true, he was afraid of the black panthers, bc they were arming themselves. as was their right. now what will happen in all these democrat run cities where the police are losing control? more police? or will the left wing agitators start arming themselves as well. another argument by politicians for more gun laws in blue states. gun control is people control. bc defunding police plus gun control(less guns) equals more crime.

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