Upon being named Department of Building Inspection employee of the quarter in April 2016, senior inspector Bernie Curran said "It is a pleasure and privilege to serve the people of San Francisco on a daily basis."

Bernie Curran, a former senior inspector at the Department of Building Inspection who last year abruptly quit following multiple scandals, is now being charged by the District Attorney on multiple counts of conflict of interest and perjury. 

Curran already faces federal bribery charges. The senior inspector, who worked for DBI from 2005 to 2021, allegedly approved permits for clients of engineer and permit expediter Rodrigo Santos, who donated to Curran’s favored charitable organizations. 

The criminal charges involve a $180,000 “loan” that Curran accepted in March, 2017, and which was still outstanding in 2020. Freydoon Ghassemzadeh, whose family runs the prominent San Francisco developer SIA Consulting, gave Curran the “loan.”  

This “loan” was uncovered last year by the City Attorney; Curran had failed to denote it on his government statements of economic interest. He was made to retroactively include it and, shortly thereafter, resign.

Although Curran was a senior inspector, he performed scores or even hundreds of inspections citywide, outside of his usual role, signed off on several SIA Consulting permitting projects and performed inspections of their buildings from 2017 to 2020. 

Curran, the District Attorney’s office stated today, allegedly did the same for several families who ended up gifting him tens of thousands of dollars during his 16 years at DBI. The DA would not share details prior to the arraignment, which is slated for March 17.

“My office is committed to rooting out public corruption and ensuring equal justice under the law,” said DA Chesa Boudin. “In my administration, no one is above the law, and public officials who breach public trust will be held accountable.”  

Mission Local has written extensively about Curran and his role in rampant corruption the Department of Building Inspection. Most notably, the Utah Street building where Curran “took care of” a permit, even though the violations hadn’t been remedied, is the same one where Paul Pelosi, Jr. had presented himself to DBI as the liaison between the owners and building department, and had purportedly asked another building inspector for help in cleaning up violations.

Curran also traveled out of his district to sign off on a final inspection at 2867 San Bruno Ave., a building with almost no recorded inspections, meaning the quality of the work is wholly unknown. Additionally, 19 illegal units were shoehorned into this structure.

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REPORTER. Annika Hom is our inequality reporter through our partnership with Report for America. Annika was born and raised in the Bay Area. She previously interned at SF Weekly and the Boston Globe where she focused on local news and immigration. She is a proud Chinese and Filipina American. She has a twin brother that (contrary to soap opera tropes) is not evil.

Follow her on Twitter at @AnnikaHom.

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  1. Getting rid of corruption is a huge step forward!! Corruption is one of the biggest problem that’s been dragging this country down.
    As government and corporate corruptions are eradicated there will be enough funds to run all the necessities.
    So congrats to the DA for stepping up.

  2. Thank you for a great story regarding one of the most crooked departments in San Francisco government. This story shows just how plagued San Francisco’s DBI is with corruption, favoritism, and special interest.

    Developers have deep pockets and are always looking to gain favor one way or another with city officials, especially the DBI.

    Thank you for continuing to hold DBI accountable.

  3. This bit of news seals the deal – where do I donate to the “NO RECALL” of Boudin.
    Why isn’t the City Attorney prosecuting? If the DA has enough for criminal prosecution why wouldn’t the City Attorney have enough for civil prosecution? Perhaps an article explaining this to us non-lawyers.
    I’ve been opposed to the recall of Boudin since its inception. Only 39% of registered SF voters voted for DA in the 2019 election – he won fair and square – the recall peeps were too lazy to vote. He was NOT one of my three choices – his endorsements made me think he was another performative progressive. I’ve watched. He’s competent. Crime has gone DOWN in my hood (Vis Valley) and I do support criminal justice reform. SFPD are on slowdown. A young guy crashed a stolen car into my neighbor’s house (took out my brick planter box) and fled. When I asked “who do I follow up with?” the cop said “oh nothing will be done as the DA isn’t prosecuting these sorts of crimes.” Nice try. DA can’t prosecute UNLESS the cops make arrests.
    (BTW I fully supported the school board recall.)

    1. Duchess,
      Boudin is a young friggin’ genius.

      He’s going straight at the problem of too many people being locked up cause they’re poor which goes back 1,500 years in English law.

      That’s ‘cash bail’ and he and Larry Krasner in Philly and George Gascon in LA and Raju and Gonzalez here have already saved the public millions and shaved thousands of years in not necessary imprisonment.

      That’s costing the billionaire investments in Private Prisons to dive on Wall Street which could be part of the reason other billionaires who used criminal business models to found the likes of Uber which destroyed how many middle class cabbies?

      There is no organization that I know of to answer your question.

      I carry a sign on my daily walk and comment on chats like this.

      Go Giants!

      h.