See below for an interactive map of San Francisco's growing web of corruption. Image and chart by Will Jarrett

In January, 2020, the first domino fell.

Mohammad Nuru, then the director of the San Francisco Department of Public Works, was hit with a raft of federal corruption charges and was accused of lying to the FBI – crimes that could see him in prison for up to 25 years.

At the time, U.S. Attorney David Anderson commented on the allegations by saying, “corruption is pouring into San Francisco from around the world.”

The following two years seem to have proven him right. Multiple heads of city government departments have since been ousted from their jobs over allegations of corruption. City employees and contractors have pleaded guilty to charges of bribery, money laundering, and fraud; others are professing their innocence as charges continue to pile up.

The federal and local investigations have touched building inspectors, real estate brokers, and even a Chinese billionaire. From Public Works to the Mayor’s Office to the Public Utilities Commission, new charges are springing up, hydra-like, month after month.

With so many interconnected allegations flying around the city, it can be difficult to keep track of exactly who is involved with what. We have created an interactive graphic to show the connections between the people and organizations that have loomed large in investigations, based on the reporting of Joe Eskenazi. As more players are swept into the maw — and as connections between players become established — we will update this item.

Click on the circles below to find out more. Click the lines between circles to understand how the two are connected.

Some have been charged, others have pleaded guilty. Others have had no charges brought. See how they are connected.

You can find a fullscreen version of the chart here.

Please note that inclusion on this chart does not necessarily imply wrongdoing, only connection with city investigations. The chart is also not exhaustive – there will be links that are not captured here. We will update the chart as investigations develop.

Test your knowledge

How well do you know the corruption scandal that has rocked San Francisco for the past two years? Click on the question boxes to see the answers.

Question 1: Who pleaded guilty to bribing Mohammed Nuru with a Rolex worth nearly $40,000?
In Feb. 2021, construction company owner and millionaire Florence Kong pleaded guilty to bribing Nuru with a Rolex worth nearly $40,000 (alongside meals, cash, and a gate for his vacation home).

Question 2: Out of all the people on our map who have pleaded guilty to charges, how many are directly connected to Mohammed Nuru?
All of them. At least 8 people have pleaded guilty to charges related to the City Hall corruption probe. They are all directly related to Mohammed Nuru.

Question 3: How much did Recology overcharge San Francisco taxpayers from 2017–20?

Question 4: How are former Public Utilities Commission boss Harlan Kelly and former senior inspector Bernie Curran connected?
Bernie Curran signed off on multiple permits for major work on Harlan Kelly’s house.

Question 5: How are Mayor London Breed and federally accused restaurateur Nick Bovis connected?
In 2015, then-supervisor London Breed received a $1,250 campaign donation from Nick Bovis in order to secure a float in the Pride parade. The donation was not reported by Breed’s campaign and exceeded the $500 maximum.

Question 6: What is the smallest number of jumps you can make to get from Balmore Hernandez to Rodrigo Santos?
We think the answer is three – moving from Hernandez to Mohammed Nuru, to Tom Hui, to Santos.

Question 7: Who officiated the wedding of former city administrator Naomi Kelly and former Public Utilities Commission general manager Harlan Kelly?
Willie Brown, the former mayor of San Francisco.

Question 8: Which non-profit held a subaccount that was used as a slush fund by Mohammed Nuru?
The San Francisco Parks Alliance. Money was deposited into the account by Recology executives as part of a bribery scheme and was allegedly used to fund lavish parties.

Question 9: What service did Walter Wong-affiliated company Alternate Choice LLC provide San Francisco?
Alternate Choice LLC provided the city’s much-maligned Renaissance trash cans. The poorly made cans exacerbated San Francisco’s trash problem and contributed to Public Works’ expensive, ongoing quest to custom-build their own perfect trash can.

Question 10: What have Balmore Hernandez, Alan Verela and William Gilmartin pleaded guilty to using in an attempt to bribe Mohammed Nuru?
A $40,000 John Deere tractor. It was allegedly sent to Nuru (under the name of his girlfriend Sandra Zuniga) to curry favor in a deal concerning an asphalt plant.

Follow Us

Will was born in the UK and studied English at Oxford University. After a few years in publishing, he absconded to the USA where he studied data journalism in New York. Will has strong views on healthcare, the environment, and the Oxford comma.

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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33 Comments

  1. No one mentions the one committee Victor G. Makras is still serving on and has been on for some time…The Willie L. Brown,Jr. Institute on Politics and Public Service.
    Kinda reads like a good joke.

  2. please investigate where all of the money for Homeless and support services and behavioral health are going. I am sure you will find scandals there as well. $5000 tents? Who has the contract? Intensive case management in name only. A director of Behavioral health that is an internist and knows nothing about schizophrenia. Ignoring anyone who is NOT HOMELESS

  3. Scorecard. Getcher scorecard here. Can’t tell the felons apart without a scorecard.

    Great graphic guys. The City is a cesspool.

  4. I have been astonished at your reporting. I am also astonished how lightly the SF Chronicle has covered the issues. So thank God or whoever for the Mission Local.

  5. This is a great and sad infographic, but I wish it came with a cast of characters in list form.

    Is the Allison Collins real estate / city development network in here? Why is TODCO missing? These aren’t criticisms, I’ve only been here a few years and I’m still trying to get my ahead around all the graft I’ve read about

  6. Joe and Will, this is brilliant. Thank you.

    I scored an “A” on your quiz, but only because I read Mission Local. Would scarcely know any of this has happened/is happening from the mainstream press.

    I hope you win prestigious journalism awards for your coverage almost as much as I hope justice is served on the criminally incompetent, greedy, selfish, and derelict city leaders.

  7. Question 11: Which disgraced public official disgraced himself further by trying and failing to rob a man at knife point for a bag of potatoes chips?

  8. Would be helpful with a map of tax dollars going to non-profits, and how much overhead/compensation each of these organizations take.

  9. Joe and Nick, thanks for the Nifty little chart! Anyone looking into the Shell Game Mayor Breed is playing between David Chui (Friendly Assembly Member) and replacing the The SFPUC Director with City Attorney Herrara? Interested moves going on there!!

  10. I find it very interesting that Mayor Breed appoints City Attorney to Head of SFPUC and Assembly Member Chui moves to the SF City Attorneys office. Coincidence? We shall see.

  11. Someone should do a deep dive investigation into the Workforce Development Division. They have an ingrained culture of incompetence, mismanagement, and fraud, especially in regards to the Jobs Now program they ran. It was a toxic cesspool, not because of line workers but because of middle and upper management, who cared only about generating “numbers” to justify their positions. The rot started at the top. I will never go on record because I’m just happy to be out of that toilet.

  12. San Francisco has had a reputation as a place to pay to play and I am as a life long resident so glad to see these overpaid pompous People taken down!!! And most of them sold out so cheap it has to be embarrassing!! But why are any allowed to keep their pension or pay while they are awaiting trial??? They should be stripped of all city benefits and any ill gotten gains should be confiscated and returned to the Tax Payers Of San Francisco!! And I Mean Everything Homes Vacation Homes Bank Accounts Anything They Got From Bribes They Should Forget

  13. Isn’t this the reason Ed Lee had a heart attack? He was a key player in the “family” and had a birthday party hosted by Walter Wong and Wongs property on Division.

  14. Which of our infamous Board of Education chiefs are a paid consultant to her husband’s development firm, which just finished a tower at Van Ness and Market? Urban Pacific Development, LLC pay Alison Collins through her Falcon Pacific LLC firm.

  15. Folks, this is just scratching the surface. San Francisco’s budget is $13 billion dollars a year. Highest of any like size city in the world. Paris has 3x the population and their budget is about $9 billion. Wait until London Breed gets busy spending that billion dollar homeless slush fund.

  16. Angus McCarty, should step down from building commission, He is Dirty, take a look at his project on market st and Traylor st Noe street, and many more,

  17. SF City government is full of failure, including the school district, which is $125 million in the hole, even with increasing property taxes and declining enrollment. And the leaning Millennium Tower, which the City had to grant a permit for. And the forever construction on Van Ness. And spending $245,000 per homeless person per year, to achieve nothing. And a District Attorney whose lawyers have quit en masse. It’s probably time to throw the rascals out.

    1. Yes and it barely goes to the homeless it is there to help it goes to pay for all the nonprofit salaries at ECS of San Francisco the true Corruptors and the”
      Most Evil “company on the planet.

  18. I guess it’s my turn to let people know what the real facts are happening right now what this is is a industry that makes money off the homel

    ess problem they realize this a long time ago and all they had to do was get all the top people working together to make it happen and they can make millions upon millions maybe even billions upon the homeless industry if they turned it into a business

  19. The real boss of all this is Calnonprofit. Read their business plan it is frightening and reminds me of 1935 Germany.

  20. DO NOT PRINT

    What about JOHN POLLARD OF SF GARAGE and MERCURY ENGINEERING?! convicted criminal for fraud, who has for years cheated the system and paid off people to get his projects approved and completed in no time. He and his wife ANNABEL MCLLELAN, another convicted criminal, need to be charged and sent back to prison!

  21. Two names not on here?

    One:
    Supervisor Ahsha Safaí. If you are looking into SIA and their connection to illegal units, and dodgy purchase of lots in the Excelsior, look no further. This is a mini-mafia, and guys like Curran with their piddly 200 dollar gifts to a soccer club and 180K loan are comparative little fish they hope will satisfy investigations and prosecutors.

    Two:
    The REAL connection here is with Siavash Tahbazof, who is THE SIA of SIA. His son-in-law Freydoon is just a proxy. Look at the dodginess around 915 Cayuga. The cover for their money-grab was a lot of sanctimonious language about “giving back to the community”.
    Tahbazof/Safai goes back for quite some time in this – here’s his 2015 endorsement:
    https://www.facebook.com/pg/SIA-Consulting-Corp-103291333070268/reviews/
    If you dig around Safai’s original purchase of an Athens St lot under a blind agency, you will find a trail that involves SIA.

    Three:
    Paul Pelosi Jr.
    He’s up to his neck with the property at 1312 Utah St. Joe Eskenazi covers the connections and dealing here, but this chart has yet to be updated with Speaker Pelosi’s son.: https://missionlocal.org/2021/11/paul-pelosi-client-9-department-of-building-inspection-1312-utah-the-pit/
    Joe also noted the Paul Pelosi connection to the property last May:
    https://missionlocal.org/2019/05/squalor-continues-at-the-pit-the-mission-district-residential-hotel-where-paul-pelosi-jr-s-involvement-baffled-san-francisco-officials/

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