Former Democrat San Francisco Public Works Director pleads guilty in corruption probe

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SAN FRANCISCO, CA – Mohammed Nuru, the former Public Works head at the center of San Francisco’s City Hall corruption scandal, formally entered a guilty plea to federal fraud charges on Thursday, which could lead to years in prison.

Nuru, 59, pleaded guilty to one count of honest services wire fraud during a virtual hearing before U.S. District Judge William Orrick.

The former Public Works Director has been at the center of a federal investigation into public corruption at City Hall since he was arrested back in January 2020.

Prosecutors said he admitted to a “staggering amount of corruption” that included getting thousands in cash, travel and other perks, all in exchange for providing insider information on contracts and bidding.

In a plea agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s Office last month, Nuru admitted to taking bribes and kickbacks from city contractors in exchange for access to his influence with City Hall.

Federal agents initially arrested Nuru along with Lefty O’Doul’s restaurant owner Nick Bovis in an alleged attempt to bribe a San Francisco International Airport commissioner for help to obtain a restaurant concession.

The U.S. Attorney said in a statement:

“The complaint describes a web of corruption involving bribery, kickbacks, and side deals by one of San Francisco’s highest-ranking city employees. The public is entitled to honest work from public officials, free from manipulation for the official’s own personal benefit and profit.

“(Nuru used) his official position to benefit a billionaire in China who was developing a large multimillion-dollar mixed-use project in San Francisco, in exchange for travel and lodging, high-end liquor, and other gifts and benefits.”

Former Democrat San Francisco Public Works Director pleads guilty in corruption probe

Since Nuru’s arrest, a dozen defendants linked to the corruption investigation have been charged in federal court, along with three corporate entities.

Among those charged include former San Francisco Public Utilities Commission general manager Harlan Kelly and former Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services director Sandra Zuniga.

Nuru was accused of giving trash hauling giant Recology favorable treatment in exchange for various payments, including $750,000 in donations the firm made to a nonprofit account that Nuru used to pay for staff merchandise and events.

In his role as Public Works Director, Nuru was involved in approving requests for rate increases in garbage collection rates in San Francisco, including those charged by Recology.

Recology also hired his son and contributed $60,000 to a baseball charity for children that used the money to fund Public Works holiday parties for Nuru, according to prosecutors.

He also admitted to giving prominent permit expediter Walter Wong city information to win government contracts in exchange for several international trips and $260.000 toward work on two of his personal residences.

The corruption probe also  connected Nuru to city contractor Florence Kong, who prosecutors said bribed Nuru with a $36,550 Rolex watch in exchange for city business.

As part of the plea deal, prosecutors agreed not to seek more than nine years in prison for Nuru. The U.S. Attorney’s Office agreed to dismiss other charges, which could have landed him behind bars for up to 20 years.

Nuru is scheduled to return to court for sentencing on May 26 by Judge Orrick. He remains out of custody on bond.

In June, Nuru was arrested in a bizarre incident where he attempted to steal a bag of potato chips from a local food bank while pulling knife.

District attorney Chesa Boudin declined to press charges, but a judge ordered Nuru to undergo a mental evaluation as part of the corruption trial.

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Report: Five more executives linked to large corruption scandal among San Francisco city leaders

March 19, 2021

 SAN FRANCISCO, CA- On Monday, March 1st, City Attorney Dennis Herrera announced that five executives and their companies were found to be connected to the Mohammed Nuru public corruption scandal.

According to reports, the scandal first surfaced back on February 12th after Florence King admitted to bribing Mohammed Nuru with gifts that included a $36,000 Rolex watch. King also admitted to bribing a public official and making false statements to the FBI.

All five executives were given suspensions. The Suspension order is:

Nick James Bovis and his company, SMTM Technology LLC;

Alan Varela and William Gilmartin and their company, ProVen Management Inc;

Florence King and her companies SFR Recovery Inc and Kwan Wo Ironworks Inc and;

Wing Lok “Walter” Wong and his companies W. Wong Construction Co, Inc, Green Source Trading, LLC, and Alternate Choice, LLC.

The suspension came from the new anti-corruption rule that was signed by Mayor London Breed back in November 2020 and put into effect on Christmas day. This rule is an example of the consequences the five executives must face.

Reportedly, this rule allows suspensions even while the executives’ cases are still going through criminal court.

According to Herrera, the suspension order also prevents the contractors from seeking or receiving any contracts or grants, directly or indirectly from San Francisco while their criminal cases are being investigated or as the long-term process to formally prohibit them from receiving those funds. Herrera said:

“Now we have another tool to keep government clean and we’re going to use it.”

He added:

“Crooked public officials or people who seek to bribe their way into City contracts fail our residents, erode public trust, and undermine the exceptional work done by thousands of San Francisco public servants every day.”

All of the individuals Herrera issued suspension orders for have been charged criminally by the U.S. Attorney’s Office as part of the Nuru and Kelly investigations. Nuru was charged with public corruption back in January 2020. Herrera said in a statement:

“If there is enough evidence to charge someone with a crime, they should not be receiving city grants or contracts while their case is being decided. It’s that simple. This will help ensure that contractors have a level playing field, the public benefits from qualified companies, and those who try to cheat the system don’t profit.”

According to a release on September 17, 2020 from the U.S. Attorney’s Office Northern District of California, Alan Varela and William Gilmartin could face a maximum statutory penalty of up to 10 years in prison as well as fines that could go as high as $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss from the alleged bribery scheme.

Prosecutors alleged that the pair provided Nuru with gifts since as early as 2013 including $20,000 in meals and a $40,000 tractor, in exchange for help to obtain a contract to build and operate an asphalt recycling plant.

In another release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office back on May 13, 2020, stated that Nick James Bovis faces a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each count to which he has agreed to plead guilty.

Bovis, owner of the restaurant Lefty O’Doul’s, was charged with wire fraud for taking part in a alleged scheme with Nuru to bribe a San Francisco International Airport commissioner. He plead guilty to the charges in May 2020.

Additionally, Wing Lok “Walter” Wong faces a maximum of statutory penalty of up to 20 years in prison on each count as well as fines that could go as high as $500,000.

Reportedly, on February 11th, Florence King was the first to be sentenced to prison by Federal Judge William Orrick. She was sentenced to one year and one day. In addition to her prison sentence, she was ordered to pay a fine of $95,000. 
 

 

 

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