Mohammed Nuru

In the wake of the January arrests of erstwhile Public Works director Mohammed Nuru and restaurateur Nick Bovis by the FBI on fraud charges, City Attorney Dennis Herrera today issued 10 subpoenas for the records of eight city companies or nonprofits.

These outfits are suspected of “funneling donations to fund City programs and events, including funding Public Works holiday parties.” They include embattled utility PG&E; construction firms Webcor, Pankow and Clark Construction; recycling company Recology; and three nonprofits: Lefty O’Doul’s Foundation for Kids, the San Francisco Parks Alliance, and the San Francisco Clean City Coalition.

The move comes on the heels of a report in the San Francisco Examiner revealing that several companies with contracts directly influenced by Nuru — Webcor, Recology, and Pankow — made ostensibly charitable donations to Bovis’ Lefty O’Doul’s Foundation for Kids in 2017. All or part of those donations, however, were instead diverted to a $30,000 Public Works holiday party.

Also included in today’s flurry of activity was the nixing of a $171,000 portable toilet contract Bovis was awarded by Public Works in 2019. Mission Local learned earlier this month that a number of contracts have come under investigation by the City Attorney and controller, including the long-running and long-problematic toilet and kiosk contract with JCDecaux.

Bovis and Nuru were arrested by FBI agents on Jan. 27; among five “schemes,” Nuru was accused of essentially bid-rigging the toilet contract to steer it to Bovis. Within a 75-page complaint unsealed on Jan. 28, Bovis allegedly indicated to“business partners” that the competitive bidding process for the commodes resembling the Painted Ladies was “just a formality.”

This so-called “scheme,” was described by the feds as the “Bathroom Trailer Scheme and Homeless Container Shelter Scheme.”

It was included to show “state of mind” of Nuru and Bovis along with alleged schemes involving a Chinese billionaire allegedly plying Nuru with luxury accommodations and high-end liquor for assistance with the stalled 555 Fulton project; allegations Nuru used his position head of the Transbay Joint Powers Authority board  to steer leases to Bovis and potentially others; and allegations that city contractors with millions of dollars in San Francisco business sent “teams” of workers to toil on Nuru’s Colusa County vacation home for free or discounted rates — and purportedly bribed him with a tractor.

Nuru and Bovis are facing 20-year prison sentences for “the airport scheme,” in which they allegedly attempted to bribe an airport commissioner with an envelope stuffed with $5,000 to land a chicken shack at San Francisco International Airport. Nuru is facing five additional years of incarceration for allegedly lying to the FBI. He was initially arrested on Jan. 21, but released after purportedly promising to cooperate with the long-running investigation and keep quiet about its existence. He is accused of doing the exact opposite of that, and then denying it to FBI agents.

The subpoenas demand documentation for any and all donations made to Bovis’ charity, the San Francisco Clean City Coalition, and the San Francisco Parks Alliance. The Clean City Coalition is a nonprofit founded in 1991 with the mission of “cleaning, greening and beautifying the City of San Francisco.” The Parks Alliance is a booster group for San Francisco parks and open space — that has, in the past, served as a conduit for big-money political donations.

The nonprofits have been ordered to disgorge materials relating to payments to and from other nonprofit and for-profit outfits named in these subpoenas as well as funding-related communications with city employees or representatives; payments made at a city employee or representative’s behest; and, in general, “all documents related to funds held on behalf of the City and County of San Francisco.”

“We are going to follow the evidence wherever it leads,” pledged Herrera. And that would appear to be so: His own wife is a board member of the Parks Alliance.

Copies of the subpoenas can be found here.

Update: Financial disclosure forms recording money being beamed about between several of the subpoenaed nonprofits help explain the above wording of the subpoenas. To wit:

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Managing Editor/Columnist. Joe was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left.

“Your humble narrator” was a writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015, and a senior editor at San Francisco Magazine from 2015 to 2017. You may also have read his work in the Guardian (U.S. and U.K.); San Francisco Public Press; San Francisco Chronicle; San Francisco Examiner; Dallas Morning News; and elsewhere.

He resides in the Excelsior with his wife and three (!) kids, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.

The Northern California branch of the Society of Professional Journalists named Eskenazi the 2019 Journalist of the Year.

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1 Comment

  1. Joe,

    A side-bar mini-scoop for you via Luke Thomas.

    The new U.S. Attorney prosecuting Nuru is guy named John Anderson.

    His wife is local political power in her own right, Kat Anderson who
    ran in D-2 cycle or two ago.

    The scoop?

    John is a Republican Trump appointee and, Kat?

    She was Chelsea Clinton’s baby sitter in the diaper era.

    Love this town.

    Go Giants!


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