An SF City Hall bribery scheme that surfaced in August has spawned a new set of charges wherein a city worker allegedly billed for earthquake supplies, but instead bought VR headsets and tech gear which he then resold on eBay.
Admittedly, it was not one of the bigger SF City Hall corruption scandals in recent memory, but a corruption scandal nonetheless, when a current and former city employee were arrested on bribery charges back in August. SF Community Challenge Grant Program director Lanita Henriquez was charged with steering $1.4 million in city contracts to the consultancy firm RDJ Enterprises, led by former city employee Dwayne Jones. Jones allegedly then funneled some $200,000 back to Jones and her family members in return. Both have pleaded not guilty, and their cases are making their way through the courts.
But on Thursday, the story got a new twist. Mission Local reports that an SF City Hall human resources employee, Stanley Ellicott, was arrested and charged with bribery for his own previously unknown role in the scheme, which was doing some of the website and technical work that RDJ Enterprises was supposedly doing. Henriquez then allegedly paid Ellicott off the books by invoicing the city for “earthquake supplies,” but Ellicott was merely buying tablets, digital cameras, and more, and selling them on eBay for personal profit.
“The charges announced today reflect my Office’s continuing commitment to uncover official misconduct in San Francisco’s City government,” DA Brooke Jenkins said in a statement. “The District Attorney’s Office's Public Integrity Task Force is dedicated to holding accountable those who steal public funds for their own ends.”
The DA’s office alleges that in February and March of 2019, Henriquez’s department approved invoices from RDJ Enterprises for “resiliency” grant items intended to buy earthquake supplies for neighborhood groups. These invoices totaled $14,000, and were billed as being for “Eureka Valley and Inner Sunset Supplies” and “Bayview and Excelsior Supplies.”
But according to a release from the DA’s office, “The actual items purchased were three Oculus virtual reality headsets, four Rylo Action cameras, an HDTV projector, a Nikon DSLR camera worth nearly $2,000, four GoPro cameras, three mini instant cameras, six Microsoft tablets, and four OSMO pocket cameras with expansion kits.” And according to an affidavit, Ellicott sold most of the stuff on eBay, with Henriquez selling a couple of the tablets herself.
Ellicott’s employer, the city’s Human Resources Department, was taken aback, and said they were unaware of any of this activity.
“Our foundational expectation is that all City employees behave ethically and with integrity in service to the residents of San Francisco,” department officials said in a statement to the Chronicle. “There is no excuse or place for this type of behavior in City government and anyone who participates in this type of misconduct should be held accountable.”
Ellicott’s arraignment has not yet been scheduled, according to the DA’s office.
Image: Uriel Soberanes via Unsplash