A politically connected consultant who worked on San Francisco government projects declined to enter a plea in San Francisco Superior Court Friday on bribery and corruption charges, and the judge agreed to postpone his arraignment until mid-September.
Dwayne Jones, who worked six years under Mayor Gavin Newsom and went on to found professional services firm RDJ Enterprises, was arrested earlier this week on 29 charges, including six counts of bribery and 23 counts of financial conflict of interest.
Lanita Henriquez, the director of San Francisco’s Community Challenge Grant Program, was also arrested. Jones is accused of paying Henriquez and her associates bribes in exchange for city contracts.
On Thursday, Henriquez pleaded not guilty to 30 charges, including one count of misappropriation of public funds, six counts of bribery, and 23 counts of financial conflict of interest.
Most of the people in San Francisco Superior Court’s Department 10 on Friday morning were friends and family of Jones.
Judge Victor Hwang began the proceedings by disclosing that he has met Jones socially in the past. Jones was represented by attorney Sarah Potter, who requested that his arraignment be delayed until Sept. 18, the same day Henriquez will next be in court. The request was granted by the DA’s office and Judge Hwang.
Jones declined to comment, and quickly left the building.
Between 2015 and 2020, Jones allegedly paid nearly $33,000 to Henriquez, and nearly $157,000 to her “family members and close associates,” constituting felony bribery, according to an affidavit undergirding the investigation released by the DA’s office.
The District Attorney’s office alleges that Henriquez then used her position to get Jones and his associated companies multiple contracts with the city worth $1.4 million. This included giving Jones “inside information about the submission requirements, minimum qualifications, and evaluation and selection criteria” about a city contract in 2020.
The affidavit also shows that Jones purchased $25,000 in gift cards around the same time he stopped sending checks to Henriquez and her associates.
In one case, after RDJ Enterprises sent a “close relative” of Henriquez checks totalling $6,497 in 2018, Henriquez sent a text to that relative, saying, “NO ONE can know we are related!!!!”
Witnesses employed by the city told DA investigators that Jones and Henriquez had dated, which made them ill at ease.
Disclosure forms filed by Henriquez failed to mention the nearly $33,000 she received from Jones and his companies.
Jones is well-connected in city government, having served in then- Mayor Newsom’s office from 2004 to 2010 as the Director of the Mayor’s Office of Community Development, his firm’s website boasts.
“The charges announced today reflect my office’s ongoing commitment to hold public officials accountable when they seek to enrich themselves at the public’s expense,” said District Attorney Brooke Jenkins in a statement earlier this week. “The public funds allocated to the City’s Community Challenge Grant Program are intended to benefit the communities of our City — not to line the pockets of government officials.”