SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF/AP) — Indicted San Francisco Public Works Director Mohammad Nuru officially resigned from his post Monday as he prepares to battle federal public corruption charges.
San Francisco Mayor London Breed said Nuru submitted his letter of resignation to the city administrator. Nuru, who is currently free on $2 million bail, has been on leave since his indictment on Jan. 28.
“While I understand the desire for him to be fired immediately, it’s important that we follow all the laws required to terminate a public employee, no matter the circumstances,” Breed said in a statement. “Before this process had been completed, he submitted his resignation.”
Aside from the federal charges, San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera and Controller Ben Rosenfield are conducting an independent investigation into the allegations of wrong-doing level against Nuru. Supervisors are also calling for an outside audit.
“I will continue to support the full independent investigation underway to uncover any improper actions that were taken and recommend reforms to ensure they never happen again,” Breed said in her statement Monday.
The FBI arrested Nuru and restaurateur Nick Bovis in January, saying the men schemed in 2018 to bribe a San Francisco airport commissioner for prime restaurant space at San Francisco International Airport. The commissioner refused the $5,000 bribe.
Nuru, 57, and Bovis, 56, are longtime friends, but they did not speak to each other during a joint court appearance last week.
The U.S. Attorney’s office alleges that the two participated in a scheme “to defraud the public of its right to the honest services of a public official through bribery or kickbacks” in violation of their duty.
Nuru goes by the Twitter handle “MrCleanSF” because he has overseen the city’s department of public works, which is responsible for cleaning streets, since 2012 and before that, was a deputy there. The department also handles the design and construction of city facilities and has a project portfolio of more than $5.6 billion. He is on paid leave.
The mayor and other city leaders depended on Nuru’s crews to clean up streets before public events, which he did without being asked. But critics say his department was heavy handed in sweeping up homeless camps. Also, sidewalks may have sparkled for photo ops, but they didn’t stay that way for long, they say.
Bovis, 56, runs a Christmas toy drive for needy children. He is the owner of several businesses, including Lefty O’ Doul’s, a popular sports bar forced to move from Union Square to Fisherman’s Wharf. The grand re-opening of Lefty’s in 2018 was attended by Breed, other elected leaders and Nuru.
The corruption allegations have upended San Francisco’s City Hall, with Breed and others professing outrage and ignorance that cozy, illegal back-scratching could happen in their city.
The fallout continues as journalists scramble to connect the dots in a hefty 75-page indictment where unnamed contractors, developers, executives and employees are referenced in conversations caught on surveillance.
The San Francisco Examiner reported that Bovis allegedly diverted charitable contributions from contractors who had business before Nuru for a lavish holiday party in 2017 for Nuru’s public works employees. The donations to “Lefty O’Doul’s Foundation for Kids” was meant to benefit children.
Prosecutors say Nuru 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 in San Francisco.
They also claim that Nuru took deeply discounted or free help fixing up his vacation home in rural Northern California.
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