Former San Francisco mayor says he did nothing wrong in RadiumOne CEO case


Willie Brown

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Willie Brown, former San Francisco mayor

Former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown denied in a radio interview Friday that he said he could make the charges against RadiumOne CEO Gurbaksh Chahal go away, and said what he did do was ethical.


Chahal originally faced 45 felony counts after prosecutors said he beat his girlfriend more than 100 times in one night in August 2013. Chahal pleaded guilty in April 2014 to two misdemeanor charges and is serving three years of probation.

In emails viewed by The Wall Street Journal and reported Wednesday, Chahal offered in December 2013 to pay Brown, a lawyer, for his help dismissing the charges.

Chahal reportedly said in an email to a RadiumOne board member that he met with Brown and wrote that Brown "wants $1 million if he can make this go away." Chahal also reportedly paid Brown a $250,000 retainer, though some of that money was later returned after the judge ruled that a video of the alleged incident was inadmissible.

In Friday's radio interview with San Francisco Chronicle political columnist Phil Matier, Brown said that "One would be out to lunch if they said they could make anything 'go away' period."


Chahal asked Brown to put together a legal team, according to the former mayor, and Brown did just that under "the canons of ethics." It was more than just an IPO that was at stake - the charges meant that Chahal could be facing the rest of his life in jail, Brown said.

"We followed all of the rules and regulations and saved him," Brown said.

Brown did return some of the money after Chahal's legal team reportedly could not convince the district attorney's office to throw out the video that prosecutors said showed Chahal hitting his girlfriend. A judge later threw out the video anyway because it was seized without a warrant.