At Sheriff Smith Trial, Witnesses Testify About Getting Gun Licenses – Palo Alto Daily Post

Longtime Santa Clara Sheriff Laurie Smith at a news conference in August at her office in San Jose. Photo from Bay City News.

Daily Post Editor

The first witness to appear yesterday (October 3) in the trial of Sheriff Laurie Smith was Carlyle Varlack, a criminal defense attorney who said he asked to carry a concealed firearm because someone was threatening him kill.

Varlack said he never received a response to his permit application from the sheriff’s office and was told he wouldn’t get one for at least a year.

“I just wanted to be able to protect myself and my family – here, now,” he testified at the Old San Jose County Courthouse.

The second witness to testify was Chris Malachowsky, founder of billionaire chipmaker NVIDIA and a contributor to Smith’s political campaigns. Malachowsky said he was told not to complete the “just cause” section of his concealed firearm application, which was approved.

“It seemed like a cool thing to have,” Malachowsky said.

He compared carrying a gun to driving a flashy car.

Malachowsky, 63, of Los Altos Hills, was cross-examined by Assistant District Attorney Gabriel Markoff, who comes from San Francisco to pursue a corruption charge against Smith, in a bid to remove her before the end of her term. in January.

With his interrogation, Markoff attempted to draw a connection between Malachowsky’s political and financial support for the sheriff and the ease with which he obtained a permit. This was juxtaposed with Varlack, who had no connection to Smith and saw his candidacy sit on the shelf, despite a real need.

Monday was the second day of the trial, and the first time witnesses outside the sheriff’s office testified.

Friday, Sgt. Rich Glennon and Secretary Linda Wallace explained how Smith’s principal deputies ordered them to process applications from politicians, athletes, judges, celebrities and friends, while strangers would receive a response stating that their application was still pending.

Varlack, 65, of San Jose, said a man — possibly a former customer with mental health issues — called and left threats on Yelp sometime in 2018.

The man said he would hang Varlack and rape his daughter, and he had a gun, Varlack said.
He parked in front of Varlack’s house late at night.

Varlack said he first went to the San Jose Police Department, but was unhappy with the response from people at the front desk. He said he insisted on filing a police report, then went straight to the district attorney’s office to discuss the threats with a victim’s attorney.

Varlack said his next step is to get a permit to carry a concealed weapon, or CCW. He said he already had firearms at home, but a CCW would protect him when he was out. He was ready to shoot and kill if necessary, he said.

Markoff withdrew Varlack’s request to carry a concealed weapon, which featured a long, handwritten paragraph instead for applicants to explain why they have good cause for a CCW.

When Varlack called the sheriff’s office to ask about his candidacy, a secretary told him he wouldn’t get a response for a year and gave him an email address to follow up.

Varlack emailed but said he never received a response from anyone in the sheriff’s office.
Eventually, officers arrested the threatening man and Varlack heard nothing more from him.

One of the key figures in Malachowsky’s testimony was Christopher Schumb, a lawyer and political fundraiser for Smith. Around 2014, Schumb introduced Malachowsky to Smith and invited him to join the Sheriff’s Advisory Council, which is a non-profit organization that buys gifts for the sheriff’s office.

Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen charged Schumb in August 2020 with bribery and conspiracy, alleging that Schumb accepted donations for Smith’s political campaigns on the understanding that the donors would receive CCWs from the sheriff.

But a judge threw Rosen off the charges because he was friends with Schumb, and Attorney General Rob Bonta dropped the case soon after due to a lack of evidence.

Malachowsky testified that the sheriff never asked him for money, although he wrote his campaign committee a check for $5,000 after seeing negative publicity attacking his handling of the jail.

“It just felt too personal,” Malachowsky said.

Members of the Sheriff’s Advisory Council were invited to “Best in the West,” a private event at the Sheriff’s Range in rural Morgan Hill, where local SWAT teams competed in tactical challenges.

Malachowsky said he took a helicopter ride and fired guns at the event. He remembered seeing a sniper shoot a balloon that couldn’t be seen without binoculars.

“Very impressive,” he said.

Allen Ruby, who represents Smith, asked Malachowsky why he joined the sheriff’s advisory board. Malachowsky gave a few reasons, and none of them had to do with getting a CCW license.

Malachowsky said he owns five homes in Los Altos Hills and the sheriff’s deputies patrol well. He said he was supportive of all law enforcement officers and especially enjoyed being around the sheriff and his deputies.

Malachowsky received his CCW license in May 2015 and the sheriff renewed it in 2017. He said he didn’t explain why he wanted a license on his application because Schumb or someone from the office of the sheriff had told him not to do it.

Malachowsky said he let his license expire after two years because he only carried a gun two or three times with it. He said he didn’t like the responsibility.

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