3 more charged in San Francisco City Hall corruption case

Mohammed Nuru, former director of San Francisco Public Works
Mohammed Nuru, former director of San Francisco Public Works, in March 2015.
(Jeff Chiu / Associated Press)

Three more people — two of them former city officials — have been charged in a San Francisco corruption case centering on former public works director Mohammed Nuru, federal prosecutors announced Monday.

Nuru’s longtime girlfriend, Sandra Zuniga, is charged with conspiring for years to help him launder money from various illegal schemes while she headed a city fix-it team and was director of the mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services, according to a statement from the U.S. attorney’s office.

Also charged are Balmore Hernandez, a former public works employee who heads a construction engineering firm, and Florence Kong, who owns a San Francisco construction company and a construction debris recycling firm, authorities said.


It wasn’t immediately known whether the three had attorneys who could speak for them.

Nuru and a local sports bar owner, Nick Bovis, were arrested in January and charged with wire fraud.

Prosecutors alleged that they unsuccessfully schemed to bribe an airport commissioner for prime restaurant space at San Francisco International Airport.

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Prosecutors also allege that Nuru received labor and construction equipment from city contractors to help him build a vacation home and accepted lavish gifts from people with city business, including a $2,000 bottle of wine and travel from a wealthy Chinese developer seeking to build a large mixed-use building.

Last month, Bovis pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate in the federal investigation.

Nuru resigned his post in February and is free on $2 million bail while awaiting trial.

Zuniga is charged with conspiracy to launder money, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.


“This is Money Laundering 101,” Kareem Carter, a special agent in charge with the Internal Revenue Service, said in a statement. “Ms. Zuniga deposited cash and checks from Mr. Nuru into her checking account, then turned around and wrote checks to him and paid the mortgage and contracting work on his vacation property.”

Hernandez is charged with bribery. Prosecutors contend that he supplied more than $50,000 worth of tile and stone for the vacation home and then asked for Nuru’s help to save his company’s bid for a project after submitting a deficient proposal.

Hernandez’s company won the contract and received some $2 million from the city, prosecutors said.

Kong is accused of trying to obtain contracts for her companies and provided Nuru with cash, a Rolex watch worth more than $40,000 and other gifts. She is charged with making false statements to FBI investigators by denying that Nuru helped her obtain contracts.