Damning testimony from former 49ers Vice President Rahul Chandhok has helped lay the foundation for the Santa Clara District Attorney’s case against Santa Clara City Council Member Anthony Becker.
Becker is accused of perjury and “violation of duty” for allegedly leaking the preliminary grand jury report titled “Unsportsmanlike Conduct” to the media and the 49ers and then lying about it under oath. He has pleaded “not guilty.”
Chandhok received immunity for his testimony. He no longer works for the 49ers, but his role with the team included overseeing the team’s public relations and marketing.
During his testimony to the criminal grand jury, Chandhok said he received the preliminary grand jury report from several sources. He claimed it was received from Becker on Thursday, Oct. 6, 2022.
Santa Clara Council Member Suds Jain also testified before the criminal grand jury. Jain told the criminal grand jury that Becker said he sent the report to Carolyn Schuk at The Weekly. According to Jain, Becker told him about the leak weeks after the report was released and just a few days before Jain received his subpoena to testify before the criminal grand jury.
Becker was less clear about when he read the preliminary civil grand jury report. In the investigation of the leak, Becker was called to testify. His testimony was read to the criminal grand jury to determine if charges would be presented for perjury.
During that testimony, Becker told Deputy District Attorney Jason Malinsky that he did not read the report until after he was contacted by a reporter.
“But your testimony here today that you did not know about the grand jury report until after a reporter called you about it?” asked Malinsky during the leak investigation interview.
“Yeah. I mean, it was hard to say the whole day because it was busy,” Becker replied. “But I got a contact from the reporter, got another e-mail from someone else, as I said, by Barry Holtzclaw. And that’s when I –I really didn’t have any time to read the entire report, which is actually kind of sad, that the media knew more about this than—than I did.”
Timeline of the Grand Jury Leak
One of the keys to the entire investigation into the grand jury report leak has been exactly who knew what and when.
While no time was provided, Britney Huelbig, the deputy manager of the Superior Court for Santa Clara County, testified that on Oct. 5, 2022, she received approval and sent a copy of the report to the clerk of the Santa Clara City Council, Hosam Haggag. The email gave the City two days to respond to the confidential grand jury report.
Huelbig says she received a delivery receipt for the email, but she never received a read receipt to show Haggag opened the email.
She received legal advice from the grand jury foreperson and legal advisor, who both agreed that calling the city clerk’s office would be the next step. There, Huelbig spoke to Assistant City Clerk Nora Pimentel, who told her to email the City’s “public facing e-mail inbox and copy her on that e-mail.”
Huelbig complied and emailed email@example.com as well as Pimentel’s direct email at 3:47 p.m. on Oct. 5, 2022. Huelbig received two read receipts to the email, one from Pimentel and one from the clerk email address.
Sometime on Oct. 6, 2022, the 49ers received the report.
Elena Caple, who currently works for the 49ers as part of the public relations team, also testified to the criminal grand jury. She received immunity for her testimony.
Caple confirmed a document provided by Malinsky which showed communications between the 49ers’ public relations team, which included Chandhok and Caple. The communications on Oct. 6, 2022 show the team creating a plan to deal with the report.
“We believed it was important that, when the report came out, our concerns about the inaccuracies in the report and the potential biases of the grand jury members was important for the public know,” said Caple in the transcript.
“That your position and that your view was put out into the press?” asked Malinsky.
“That the public be able to decide for themselves, with the full information, whether or not they should believe the claims made in the report,” replied Caple.
“We knew that Mayor Gillmor would also be doing the same and presenting the information that she thought necessary,” Caple said further in her testimony. “And so, as with any news story, generally, it’s shaped by the initial reports. And so we wanted to be sure that our—the concerns we had were included in the initial reports. “
“And did you want to get your concerns out before Mayor Gillmor got hers out?” asked Malinsky.
“I believe that we wanted to ensure that ours were part of the initial reports,” replied Caple.
Chandhok testified that around that same time, he exchanged messages with Miles Barber, the publisher of The Weekly and the Silicon Valley Voice. Chandhok says Barber told him he had a preliminary copy of the “Unsportsmanlike Conduct” report. Chandhok says while Barber verbally discussed some aspects of the report, he did not send the report to Chandhok.
Evidence presented by Deputy District Attorney Jason Malinsky shows that Chandhok received an email from Angie Tolliver, the editor of this paper, at 9:52 p.m. on Oct. 6, 2022 which included the report. Chandhok agreed that this was a true email.
Chandhok said he had similar discussions with Ramona Giwargis, the cofounder of the San Jose Spotlight, around that time.
Ben Holt, an investigator hired by the District Attorney’s Office, was tasked with looking into the leak and the timing of publication. Holt testified he used the site web.archive.org, often referred to as the “Way Back Machine” to determine who published first.
Holt testified that this publication, the Silicon Valley Voice, published the article first at 3:00 a.m. on Oct. 7, 2022.
Holt then testified that the San Francisco Chronicle’s article posted next at 8:58 a.m. on Oct. 7, 2022. While the article currently shows a time of 6:36 p.m. online, the “Way Back Machine” showed the initial 8:58 a.m. time. Holt went on to say that when he pulled up an actual image of the first screenshot of the site, it had a publish date of Oct. 7, 2022 at 12:58 a.m.
In both instances, Holt said, while it appeared the reporters had a copy of the preliminary report, neither site included the report in their articles.
The third site to publish was San Jose Spotlight, which was published on Oct. 7, 022 at 10:39 a.m. The Spotlight article included a full copy of the civil grand jury report.
The civil grand jury report “Unsportsmanlike Conduct” was officially released on Oct. 10 at 10 a.m.
Editor’s Note: The transcripts from the criminal grand jury consisted of approximately 850 pages of testimony. The Weekly is reading through the document. This is the first of a series of articles about what was revealed in the criminal grand jury transcripts. By law, we cannot share the entire document with the public.