San Francisco, CA

Nuru pleads guilty to federal fraud charges

Built in the Bay
(Justin Sullivan / Getty Images)

(SAN FRANCISCO) Mohammed Nuru, the former Director of San Francisco's Public Works Department who was arrested last year amid a widespread federal corruption case, pleaded guilty to a federal fraud charge Thursday.

The guilty plea marks the first legal hurdle in a spiderweb case of corruption, collusion and favoritism. While the scandal brought about several changes within city departments, Nuru — who said very little at Thursday's hearing — was officially charged with fraud in connection to an alleged attempt at bribing an airport commissioner for preferential restaurant placement.

U.S. Attorney Stephanie M. Hinds, in a Dec. 17 statement, noted that Nuru did far more for himself than the public during his time as head of the City's Public Works Department. He admitted to a "staggering amount of public corruption. Instead of serving the public, Nuru served himself," according to Hinds.

According to the plea agreement, Nuru accepted money, international trips, expensive jewelry, high-end wines and numerous other gifts from developers and city contractors.

Nick Bovis, a San Francisco restauranteur, pleaded guilty in May 2020 to wire fraud and honest services wire fraud in connection to the federal case.

Thursday's plea agreement brought details to light about the nature of the gifts Nuru accepted. Of the biggest items, Nuru reportedly accepted $22,000 of home appliances from Bovis, a $36,000 Rolex from developer Florence Kong and roughly $250,000 of free labor on his Colusa County ranch property.

With the federal charges Nuru is facing, he could get sentenced to up to 20 years in prison. However, prosecutors indicated that are only seeking a nine-year sentence.

Nuru is currently free on a $2 million bond.

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