Friday, April 9, 2021

Former San Francisco program director Sandra Zuniga pleads guilty in City Hall corruption scandal

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Former San Francisco public official Sandra Zuniga has agreed to plead guilty to money laundering in connection with a corruption scandal that has rocked City Hall, according to federal prosecutors.

Zuniga, who once headed the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services and the city’s Fix-it Team for safe and clean streets, has also agreed to cooperate with the investigation as part of her plea agreement.

“Today a top San Francisco City Hall public official agreed to plead guilty to charges in our political corruption investigation and will cooperate with the FBI against others involved,” said Stephanie Hinds, acting U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California.

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Zuniga was indicted last June and has since been fired by Mayor London Breed.

According to the federal complaint, Zuniga allegedly laundered bribes benefitting former San Francisco Public Works Director Mohammed Nuru over a span of several years.

“Through numerous financial transactions, over a period of almost ten years, she attempted to hide the true source of Mohammed Nuru’s funds.  No public official should be allowed to behave as if they are above the law,” said Michael Daniels, Acting IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agent In Charge.

Among the examples listed in the complaint include Zuniga allegedly receiving cash each month to make the mortgage payments on Nuru’s vacation home in Colusa County. The complaint also alleges that Zuniga traveled with Nuru on a lavish two-week trip to South America in 2018, which was subsidized or paid for by a contractor doing business with the city.

Hinds, the U.S. Attorney, said they are also looking for additional people who may have information about the scandal, but also noted that the “window of time for cooperation is closing.”

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“If you are involved in public corruption at any level, reach out to the FBI before the FBI reaches out to you.  Early cooperation is always viewed favorably,” Hinds said.

Along with Zuniga and Nuru, other city officials have been charged in connection with the corruption probe, including Harlan Kelly, the general manager of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission. Several companies that had city contracts, along with their owners, have also been temporarily barred from doing business with the city.

Zuniga is scheduled to be arraigned on Wednesday. She remains out of custody on bond.

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