SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — A federal grand jury has indicted former San Francisco Building Inspection Commission President Rodrigo Santos on bank fraud, aggravated identity theft and obstruction of justice charges, federal prosecutors have announced.
Acting United States Attorney Stephanie M. Hinds and Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge Craig D. Fair said the charges were added to the counts already pending against Santos.READ MORE: Fairfield Police Arrest 4 Suspected in Catalytic Converter Theft Ring
In May, a federal criminal complaint was filed alleging that Santos, as the principal and co-founder of the San Francisco-based company Santos and Urrutia Structural Engineers, Inc., engaged in a fraud scheme to obtain and deposit money from his clients into his own bank account and charged him with bank fraud.
Santos was appointed in 2000 to be a member of the San Francisco Building Inspection Commission by Mayor Willie Brown and promoted in 2004 to be the Commission’s President by Mayor Gavin Newsom.
The federal indictment filed Thursday broadened the charges against Santos. The indictment charges ten counts of bank fraud in a scheme that spanned from November 2012 through March 2019.READ MORE: 8 People Displaced by House Fire in San Lorenzo
As part of the scheme, the indictment alleges Santos obtained money from clients who wrote checks to pay fees or costs associated with their residential building and construction projects. The indictment asserts that in several instances, Santos manipulated the checks by editing the “pay to the order of” (“payee”) field to make the checks appear to be written to Santos.
Prosecutors said that in other instances, Santos endorsed the checks to himself without authorization from his clients or the payee indicated on the check, sometimes handwriting the payee’s name on the back of the check’s endorsement field.
He is alleged to have deposited to his personal bank account approximately 445 such checks written as pay to the order of a third party, totaling $775,412.90.
The indictment also charges two counts of aggravated identity theft, alleging that in February 2017 Santos, while engaging in bank fraud, twice knowingly used the identity of another person without authority.
Lastly, the indictment charges Santos with one count of altering and falsifying records in a federal investigation, alleging that Santos twice submitted altered and false invoices of his company, Santos and Urrutia Structural Engineers, Inc., to the FBI with the intent to obstruct the FBI’s investigation into his bank fraud scheme.MORE NEWS: UPDATE: Estrada Fire Near Watsonville 60% Contained; All Evacuation Warnings Lifted
Santos is charged with ten counts of bank fraud and two counts of aggravated identity theft. If convicted, Santos faces a statutory maximum of 30 years in prison and a $1,000,000 fine for each count of bank fraud; a statutory maximum of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for the obstruction of justice count; and at least two years in prison for a conviction on a count of aggravated identity theft, imposed consecutive to any sentence already imposed on the bank fraud counts.