A certain “former government employee” and “prominent developer” should be very worried right now, as Mohammed Nuru is taking a plea deal with the feds and appears ready to sing like a canary.
Disgraced former SF Public Works director Mohammed Nuru appeared in court Friday morning (on Zoom, that is) and pleaded not guilty to his federal fraud charges. But federal prosecutors dropped a pretty enormous bomb during these proceedings. As first reported by the SF Standard and since confirmed by other news sources and even the federal government itself, Nuru will later plead guilty to fraud, will admit to taking a $20,000 bribe from a “former government employee,” and has signed an admission of taking “cash bribes from a prominent developer in San Francisco.”
Update: Nuru is pleading guilty to one fraud charge. Under his plea deal, he's admitting to new bribes including accepting $20K from an unnamed former government employee and thousands in cash bribes from an unnamed "prominent developer" https://t.co/5fkL0uZgiK— Michael Barba (@mdbarba) December 17, 2021
“Mohammed Nuru admits to a staggering amount of public corruption in his plea agreement,” acting US attorney Stephanie M. Hinds said in a statement. “For years, Nuru held a powerful and well-paid public leadership position at San Francisco City Hall, but instead of serving the public, Nuru served himself. He took continuous bribes from the contractors, developers, and entities he regulated.”
JUST IN: Former San Francisco Public Works director Mohammed Nuru appears prepared to settle his fraud case with the federal government.https://t.co/BooIULltHI— San Francisco Chronicle (@sfchronicle) December 17, 2021
There are fresh bribe charges that had been previously unreported in the announcement from the Justice Department. It sure sounds like the feds have Nuru right where they want him, and scandal fans should get the popcorn ready over some new bombshells.
“Nuru admits in his plea agreement that around 2018 he accepted a bribe of $20,000 in cash from a former government employee in exchange for Nuru using his position to help a particular person obtain an engineering job with the City,” the feds’ announcement says. “Former government employee,” hmmm? Let’s see some speculation in the comments, people!
There’s more. “Nuru also admits he accepted cash bribes from a prominent developer in San Francisco,” the feds also say. “The cash bribes usually consisted of a few thousand dollars. The developer would later call Nuru when he had any problems with DPW-related approvals or other matters that Nuru could help resolve.”
Could this “prominent developer” be major SF landlord Victor Makras?
Mohammed Nuru pleads not guilty to all charges — but it is intimated there will be a potential change of plea on Jan. 14. Feds mention presence of "signed plea agreement."— Joe Eskenazi (@EskSF) December 17, 2021
Nuru's bail altered so he can travel to his "ranch" in Colusa County.
Mission Local’s Joe Eskenazi has the additional detail that “Nuru's bail [was] altered so he can travel to his ‘ranch’ in Colusa County.” This very ranch is actually named in today’s announcement. “Nuru admits that in or about 2010 he bought a 10-acre lot in Colusa County and developed it into his vacation ranch with free labor and materials provided by City contractors seeking favors from him,” the feds say. “Nuru admits he also used the proceeds of his crimes to pay the mortgage. “
The feds’ announcement also says Nuru has copped to previously reported charges regarding “Girlfriend 1” Sandra Zuniga, permit expediter Walter Wong, city contractor Florence Kong, Lefty O’Doul’s owner Nick Bovis, and of course, the Recology bribes.
The Chronicle has a now-contrite statement from Nuru’s attorney. “He has learned a lot from his past mistakes,” Nuru’s lawyer Ismail Ramsey said. “Going forward, he intends to focus on his health and dedicate himself to improving the lives of others and his community in any way he can.”
The feds certainly appear to have flipped Nuru, so let’s cut to the major questions. Is the “former government employee” Willie Brown? Does Mayor London Breed have some serious legal exposure here? Are there additional big names at City Hall also going down? We don’t know any of this, but there is a not-zero chance of any of these possibilities. But we are going to get the answers to these questions, probably in 2022, and this public corruption scandal is definitely widening and not shrinking.
Nuru appears in court again on January 14, 2022.
Image: @MrCleanSF via Twitter