Former San Francisco Department of Public Works Director Mohammed Nuru was reportedly arrested Wednesday morning following a strange-sounding incident at the SF-Marin Food Bank warehouse in the Dogpatch neighborhood.
A longtime volunteer at the food bank, Nuru was apparently working with other volunteers when he brandished a knife, prompting police to be called. The incident happened around 11:15 a.m., as ABC 7 reports, and was confirmed by the SF-Marin Food Bank's communications director, Keely Hopkins.
Nuru also allegedly "tried to steal a bag of potato chips," but then "said he was kidding."
Hopkins told ABC 7 that no one was hurt, and the volunteers were all sent home for the day.
Update: The Chronicle adds a victim's report to the bizarre incident, and it describes a situation in which the victim was approached by a suspect with a knife who demanded his belongings. The victim left the area and called police, and described the suspect as "potentially a mentally disturbed person." The victim added that the suspect, identified as Nuru, "pulled the knife on him for no apparent reason."
Update 2: KQED's Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez posted to Twitter and sheriff's department records now confirm that as of 4:44 p.m. Nuru was booked in county jail for second degree robbery.
This is the first report of Nuru being in the public sphere in many months, nearly a year and a half after he and a co-conspirator were indicted on federal corruption charges in January 2020. Since then, the federal probe has ensnared multiple city employees and city contractors, with some pleading guilty to fraud and bribery and agreeing to cooperate with federal prosecutors.
Most recently, just last week, two Oakland businessmen, Alan Varela and William Gilmartin III, agreed to plead guilty, admitting to conspiracy to commit wire fraud for providing Nuru with $20,000 in meals and a $40,000 tractor to use at his vacation ranch in Colusa County. These gifts were in exchange for inside information in their bid to build an asphalt recycling plant in San Francisco.
The probe has led to the resignations of multiple city department heads, including Nuru, former Public Utilities Commission General Manager Harlan Kelly, and his wife, former City Administrator Naomi Kelly.
The case against Nuru remains under investigation, and the breadth of the charges against him is still pending. He will likely face trial and/or prison time, though he is currently free on bail.
A year ago, the first man indicted alongside Nuru, SF restaurateur Nick Bovis, pleaded guilty, and he faces up to 20 years in jail and a $250,000 fine for each count to which he pleaded.