SAN FRANCISCO—The U.S. Department of Justice announced on Thursday, April 15, that John Francis Porter, the former Vice President and Group Manager of the Recology’s San Francisco Group was charged with bribing Mohammed Nuru, a former Director of San Francisco Department of Public Works (DPW). The feds also charged Porter with money laundering.
“The complaint unsealed today alleges that Porter, 37, of San Francisco, bribed Nuru and participated in laundering the proceeds of the bribe as part of an alleged years-long scheme to defraud the public of its right to honest services,” said the Department of Justice in a news release.
The authorities explained that Recology’s San Francisco Group is a trash company in the San Francisco area. “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 the authorities.
According to the U.S. Justice Department, another employee at Recology, Paul Giusti, a manager under Porter, was also charged with bribery and money laundering.
Authorities indicated that in the summer of 2018, Recology wanted to raise the fees it charged San Francisco for dumping materials at the Recology Sustainable Crushing facility.
“During the summer and fall of 2018, the complaint alleges, Porter sought Nuru’s assistance with Recology’s efforts to increase the tipping fee. Porter enlisted the help of his subordinate Giusti, who had a close relationship with Nuru,” said the U.S. Justice Department
Porter emailed Nuru on November 26, 2018, about increasing the “tipping fees,” and afterward Giusti agreed to give Nuru a bribe of $20,000 to impact his actions on the proposed increase.
According to the complaint, Porter provided written approval for Recology to give a $20,000 check to Lefty O’Doul’s Foundation for Kids, a non-profit organization ran by Nick Bovis, to help underprivileged San Francisco children during the 2018 holiday season.
“Giusti provided the bribe money to the Lefty O’Doul’s Foundation, and Bovis used the Recology money to pay for Nuru’s elaborate DPW holiday party, not to help underprivileged San Francisco children,” stated the Justice Department.
The bribe failed and Bovis pled guilty to honest services fraud in May of 2020 for bribing Nuru.
“The complaint further describes Porter’s role in the Recology San Francisco Group’s efforts, acting through executives including Giusti and Porter, to direct benefits to Nuru totaling over $1 million to influence Nuru, who was Recology’s regulator,” noted the Justice Department.
The authorities said that Recology had a constant “need for Nuru’s approvals, including for rate increases for residential garbage collection.”
An email Porter sent to a co-worker at Recology said, “Mohammed is the Director of the DPW who ultimately signs off on our rates. Needless to say, keeping him happy is important.”
Giusti and Porter would continually acquiesce to Nuru by providing him “with a stream of benefits over years,” said authorities.
Porter also approved a $55,000 check to fund Nuru’s DPW parties “in payments disguised as charitable Lefty O’Doul’s Foundation donations.”
Federal prosecutors indicated that Porter was charged with bribery and laundering the proceeds of honest services fraud. Officials explained that bribery carries a max penalty of 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 if convicted. Money laundering carries a possible penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of $500,000, said the officials.
Porter’s next court appearance is scheduled for April 20, at 10:30 a.m. in San Francisco before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley.