A senior inspector at the SF Department of Building Inspection “has been placed on administrative leave” over a $180,000 loan from a developer he was tasked with inspecting. One of the properties he may have inappropriately approved is, literally, a payday loan shop.
It is unlikely that we’ll get another Department of Building Inspection scandal that's as funny as the “RoDBIgo Santos” affair, wherein former (and since arrested and charged) DBI commissioner Rodrigo Santos instructed developers make checks out to DBI, and then manually changed the checks to say “RoDBIgo Santos” and cashed the things himself. According to FBI criminal complaints, he did this more than 200 times and pocketed well over $400,000.
A senior San Francisco building inspector has been placed on administrative leave after he allegedly failed to report a loan from a politically-connected developer for whom he had performed multiple inspections. https://t.co/yZ2uQPHaHP— San Francisco Chronicle (@sfchronicle) June 8, 2021
Perhaps the DBI scandals won't be that funny, but we will get more DBI scandals, as City Attorney Dennis Herrera keeps investigating the fishy fallout from the ongoing public corruption scandal. The Chronicle reports senior DBI inspector Bernard Curran took a $180,000 loan from a developer he was tasked with inspecting, and failed to report it as legally required. And curiously, or maybe not curiously at all, the developer’s properties passed their inspections with flying colors!
There are two properties in question, with multiple inspections approved by Curran, all buildings belonging to a SIA Consulting, which is owned by Behmann Ghassemzadeh, whose father Freydoon Ghassemzadeh gave Curran the $180k loan. One of those properties is the lovely Hayes Valley Victorian seen in the tweet above. The other, rather ironically in light of the unreported loan, is a Money Mart “Payday Loans” joint in Visitacion Valley.
Curran, a DBI staffer since 2005, is supposed to report any potential conflict-of-interest loans on state Form 700. In this case, he did not, hence being placed on leave. The city attorney and DBI higher-ups also found it odd that one of these properties is not in Curran’s assigned district, yet somehow he was the inspector for the project anyway.
“We have partnered with the City Attorney’s Public Integrity Unit on an investigation into employees suspected of corruption and have recently placed one of those people on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation,” DBI spokesperson Patrick Hannan told the Chronicle.
Of course, when we say “DBI higher-ups,” we mean new DBI higher-ups. Former DBI director Tom Hui was placed on leave in March and resigned two weeks later, over allegations of inappropriate favors to permit expediter Walter Wong, who has taken a plea deal with the feds in the ever-expanding Mohammed Nuru scandal.
And that is a highly entertaining, popcorn-worthy scandal. But now the scandal has taken a turn so that the alleged kickbacks and bribes might involve sketchy earthquake retrofit inspection approvals concerning gas lines. And as an exhaustive Mission Local investigation reminded us in April, sketchy earthquake retrofit inspections can lead to horrific and tragic results.
Image: Google Street View