A family posing for a photo in a living room.
Siavash “Sia” Tahbazof, seated, the scion of a construction family.

The U.S. Department of Justice charged three San Francisco construction executives today with bribing employees at the Department of Building Inspection in the feds’ ongoing rampage through San Francisco. 

On Thursday, the DOJ charged Siavash “Sia” Tahbazof, 72, who founded the design firm SIA Consulting and is the developer SST Investments, with one charge of wire fraud. He is alleged to have bribed city employees Bernie Curran — the building inspector who was sentenced to 12 months and a day in July — as well as plan-checkers Cyril Yu and Rodolfo “Rudy” Pada, who were themselves charged with accepting the bribes just last week.

The feds also charged Reza Khoshnevisan, 54, and Bahman Ghassemzadeh, 38, with conspiracy charges; Ghassemzadeh is alleged to have bribed all three former DBI employees, while Khoshnevisan is charged with bribing Yu and Pada.

Tahbazof’s name was never printed in prior documents, but by connecting the dots left by the feds, one could predict this day. Both Curran and Pada received interest-free loans that were structured to appear as if they came from Tahbazof’s relative, Freydoon Ghassemzadeh — but, the feds allege, actually originated from Tahbazof. 

If the federal allegations are true, then Tahbazof essentially achieved vertical integration via bribing the plan-checkers and the field inspector who would be handling projects of interest to him. 

All three men charged today face 20 years in prison per charge, and fines topping out at $250,000. The alleged bribery took place over the span of the last decade.

The charges are just the latest in a sprawling web of corruption that has touched almost every level of city government since 2020, starting with the then-director of Public Works, Mohammed Nuru, and ensnaring city workers, building inspectors and public officials.

This is a developing story and will be updated as possible.

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Joe was born in Sweden, where the Chilean half of his family received asylum after fleeing Pinochet, and spent his early childhood in Chile; he moved to Oakland when he was eight. He attended Stanford University for political science and worked at Mission Local as a reporter after graduating. He then spent time in advocacy as a partner for the strategic communications firm The Worker Agency. He rejoined Mission Local as an editor in 2023.

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. I wonder how high up all these charges will go before the investigation is quietly left to close. Will everyone who had any connection to these crimes actually be held to account or will political pressure affect those conducting the investigations and persuade them to not look too deeply into those who may have future political ambitions. As recent stories of corruption surround the supreme court, a son of a current president and a former president/ current front runner faces charges, I keep wondering if the law applies equally to everyone even if they’re very wealthy or politically powerful and connected?

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