Thursday, October 28, 2021

Second Recology executive charged with bribery in San Francisco city hall corruption scandal

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A second former executive at waste and recycling company Recology has been charged with bribery in connection with a city hall corruption scandal that has ensnared former Public Works Director Mohammed Nuru and other city officials.

Federal prosecutors said John Francis Porter, former vice president and group manager of Recology’s San Francisco Group, has been charged with one count of bribery and one count of money laundering.

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“Once again a person employed by a company contracting with San Francisco has been charged with bribing a San Francisco City Hall official with more than $1 million of funds and benefits,” acting U.S. Attorney Stephanie M. Hinds said in a statement.

The 37-year-old faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted on the bribery charge and up to 20 years in prison and a $500,000 fine if convicted on the money laundering charge.

“Porter was a central player in the scheme detailed in the complaint that provided Nuru, then the DPW Director, with a continuous stream of money and benefits to influence Nuru to engage in official acts benefitting Recology,” said Hinds’ office.

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Prosecutors allege that Porter, with the help of fellow executive Paul Giusti, helped direct more than $1 million in benefits to Nuru, who was Recology’s regulator. Giusti was charged with bribery and money laundering late last year.

The complaint cited an email Porter sent to a colleague which said, “Mohammed is the Director of the DPW who ultimately signs off on our rates. Needless to say, keeping him happy is important.”

According to the complaint, Porter sought Nuru’s assistance in Recology’s efforts to raise the “tipping fees” it charged the city for dumping materials at its Sustainable Crushing facility and enlisted the help of Giusti.

The complaint alleges that Giusti agreed to bribe Nuru $20,000 to influence him on the increase. Porter then approved a $20,000 check described as a “holiday donation” to the Lefty O’Doul’s Foundation for Kids, which was run by Nick Bovis. Prosecutors said Bovis used the Recology money to fund Nuru’s holiday party for the Department of Public Works.

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Bovis pled guilty last year to bribing Nuru. The attempt to raise the tipping fee was not successful.

Prosecutors said Porter ultimately approved $55,000 to fund Nuru’s holiday parties which were disguised as donations to the Lefty O’Doul’s foundation.

Porter also allegedly approved hundreds of thousands of dollars in Recology payments made at Nuru’s direction to a San Francisco nonprofit for a DPW program called “Giant Sweep.” The nonprofit briefly held the money before taking a 5% cut and sent the remainder to Nuru-controlled accounts at another nonprofit, according to prosecutors.

Eleven people have been charged in connection with the scandal and multiple defendants have pled guilty.

Prosecutors said Porter was expected to make his first court appearance on the charges Tuesday morning.

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