In May, United States Attorney Dave Anderson charged Rodrigo Santos with bank fraud relating to some $480,000 in clients’ money purportedly being deposited in Santos’ account. And hundreds of the prolific San Francisco engineer’s clients were left to frantically balance their checkbooks and figure out if they’d been ripped off.
Including, it turns out, Anderson’s own wife.
Kat Anderson, a journalist, attorney, and restaurateur, last year initiated a project to erect a cottage in the rear yard of the Third Street structure she owns that houses her restaurant: Word. A Cafe.
The structural engineer hired for the project in 2019 was Santos.
Department of Building inspection records from August 2020 — well after his arrest and charging — designate him as the engineer of record for the project.
Kat Anderson says none of her checks have improperly found their way into Santos’ account.
“My general contractor selected Santos-Urrutia” — Santos’ firm — “which we pre-paid in 2019.”
As Santos was pre-paid, separating him from the project after he was arrested and charged would have required both seeking out a new engineering firm, and paying them.
“We didn’t want to start over when we learned Santos was charged,” Anderson continued. “The work was almost done, and was honest and accurate.”
Anderson’s contractor, Peter Sheridan, confirmed that hiring Santos was his call.
“We’ve worked with Rodrigo before, and had relatively good success with him,” he said. “As far as I know, he’s been up front with us.”
If not for the pandemic-related procedural hurdles from within the Department of Building Inspection, Sheridan feels this project could’ve been completed well before Santos was charged by the feds in May — or perhaps even before a bevy of allegations against him were revealed by the City Attorney in March.
“The Department of Building Inspection is totally backed up,” said Sheridan. “It takes, like, six months to get an over-the-counter permit.”
The feds accuse Santos of soliciting clients or others to write 261 checks to city departments or youth sports leagues over a three-year period — but instead, depositing the roughly $478,000 into his own Bank of America account.
He is, notably, accused of altering a check made out to “DBI” to read “RoDBIgo Santos,” and depositing that, too.
A search of the property records reveals that Dave Anderson does not have any interest in the building; in 2016 he quit his claim to it, ceding it to Kat Anderson as her sole property. She subsequently transferred ownership to an LLC.
She hopes the project proceeds as planned expeditiously, “adding to San Francisco’s badly needed housing stock.”
Incidentally, the derelict former storefront church next door to Kat Anderson’s property is also slated to add to the city’s housing stock via a future multi-story development.
The excavator on that project, according to DBI records, is Seosamh O’Briain.
O’Briain, coincidentally, is one of several excavators whose names were forged on bogus reports given to the city by Santos, according to the City Attorney.
The City Attorney also claims that, on those forged documents, O’Briain’s name was misspelled “Seamus.”
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