San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera has issued subpoenas to eight companies and organizations as part of a joint public corruption investigation, which was initiated after the FBI filed bribery and public corruption charges against Public Works Director Mohammed Nuru and a local restaurateur Nick Bovis earlier this month.
The city attorney's investigation is focused on whether or not certain companies or nonprofits funneled donations into city programs or events, such as a $30,000 Public Works holiday party.
On the list of those subpoenaed were the following contractors.
- Clark Construction Group-California Inc. and Clark Construction Group-California LP
- Webcor Builders Inc. and Webcor Construction LP
- Pankow Operating Inc., which is a holding company for a group of firms that includes Charles Pankow Builders Ltd., Pankow Special Projects LP and Mid-State Precast LP.
The subpoenas request information related to any donations or payments the companies made to charities affiliated with Bovis, to the San Francisco Parks Alliance or the San Francisco Clean City Coalition from Jan 1, 2015, through February of this year.
Federal officials accused Nuru of trying to divert city contracts to Bovis-related companies, lying to the FBI, having city contractors perform either free or discounted work on his vacation home and accepting gifts from an unnamed Chinese developer who was looking for help with a San Francisco development. Among the documents requested on the subpoenas are also any solicitations for gifts, money or services made by city employees or officials. The companies must respond to the subpoena within 15 days of service.
Although none of the companies has yet to be accused of any wrongdoing by the city attorney's office, Herrera's press release regarding the subpoenas referenced a San Francisco Examiner report that Webcor and Pankow allegedly donated money to Bovis-run baseball charity Lefty O’Doul’s Foundation for Kids to help pay for the Public Works holiday party. Both Webcor and Pankow denied allegations of wrongdoing to the Examiner.
The City Attorney's Office said the investigation into potential corruption will also attempt to identify contracts, grants and other government decisions that involve conflicts of interest or other violations. This could potentially pull other companies into the probe.
The San Francisco Controller’s Office, the City Attorney's Office, finance teams at the Department of Public Works and the Office of Contract Administration are also reviewing public works contracts, purchase orders and grants for evidence of "process failures" and are working to determine if there are any open contracts or purchase orders that warrant stop payments of cancellations.
Across the country, there is also a potential construction industry tie to this week's arrest of state Rep. David Nangle, a Democrat from Lowell, Massachusetts. Among the charges in the 28-count indictment against him is that Nangle received free construction services from a contractor who was later awarded "lucrative" state-funded construction projects. Nangle, who has been accused of trying to fund a gambling habit through various corrupt acts related to his position as a state representative, pleaded not guilty to all charges.