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California

Top San Francisco city official charged in corruption case

Mohammed Nuru, director of San Francisco Public Works
Mohammed Nuru, director of San Francisco Public Works, is pictured in 2015. Nuru has been charged with public corruption.
(Jeff Chiu / Associated Press)

A top San Francisco official tasked with keeping the streets clean has been charged with public corruption in schemes that include offering a bribe for space at San Francisco International Airport, providing inside information to a friend seeking permits to build homeless shelters and accepting lavish gifts from a billionaire Chinese developer.

San Francisco Public Works Director Mohammed Nuru made an initial appearance in court Tuesday along with Nick Bovis — the owner of Lefty O’ Doul’s, a popular sports bar in Fisherman’s Wharf, and other city businesses. Each was ordered held on $2-million bail. Information on attorneys for the two men was not immediately available.

“The complaint alleges corruption pouring into San Francisco from around the world,” said David L. Anderson, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California.

Nuru, 57, was initially arrested in late January and agreed to cooperate with officials, but violated his agreement not to discuss the case and was re-arrested, Anderson said.

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As the top official in charge of the $312-million city public works budget since 2012, Nuru is tasked with cleaning up San Francisco streets, which critics note remain cluttered with feces, trash and used needles amid a homelessness crisis. In August he launched a “Poop Patrol” tasked with power washing high-risk streets.

Nuru, who goes by “MrCleanSF” on Twitter, also oversees the design and construction of city facilities, and 1,600 employees. The agency’s capital project portfolio is more than $5.6 billion.

The department has more recently been lauded for its portable public toilet “Pit Stop” program, which supporters say has reduced the need for steam cleaning human waste in some areas.

San Francisco Supervisor Matt Haney, who represents an inner-city area at the heart of street waste complaints, said he has repeatedly pushed for accountability from a department that is run “like a one-person fiefdom.”

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“The result has been a recipe for corruption and a complete failure to keep our streets clean,” he said in a statement.

Mayor London Breed told reporters that she did not have any information about the allegations, but she said the city would cooperate with the FBI.


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