SAN FRANCISCO—Harlan Kelly Jr., 58, the General Manager of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SF PUC), was charged with honest wire fraud on Monday, November 30.
Honest wire fraud is defined in Skilling v. U.S. (2010), when an individual ‘buys off’ a public official using “fraudulent schemes to deprive another of honest services through bribes or kickbacks supplied by a third party who [has] not been deceived.”
Authorities raided Kelly’s property the same day he was charged with fraud. He later resigned from his position.
“Engaged in a long-running bribery scheme and corrupt partnership with Walter Wong, a San Francisco construction company executive and permit expediting consultant who ran or controlled multiple entities doing business with the City of San Francisco,” said the FBI in a statement.
The FBI’s complaint states that “as part of the scheme, Wong provided items of value to Kelly in exchange for official acts by Kelly that benefited or attempted to benefit Wong’s business ventures.”
U.S. Attorney David L. Anderson said, “Public officials owe their honest services to the people of San Francisco. Bribery scams undermine our faith in the City government.”
The FBI alleges that Kelly, “Developed an extensive relationship with Wong that involved coded text messages, multiple international trips paid for or subsidized by Wong, cash exchanges, free meals, and even personal car service provided by Wong or by Wong’s employees to Kelly.”
The FBI included in the complaint a trip to Hong Kong and China that Kelly and his family went on in March 2016, all paid for by Wong. The complaint said that on that trip, Wong paid for jewelry, hotel rooms, and meals. The FBI alleges that Kelly knew the gifts he received were from Wong because he would use an encrypted messaging application when he thanked Wong for the gifts, “Thank you for the best family vacation ever! A little something for everyone!”
In exchange for the services, Kelly was to help Wong get a multi-million-dollar contract from SF PUC for a company called Green Source Trading, LLC, the complaint says. Wong’s son, the FBI states, was the head of Green Source Trading.
If convicted, honest wire fraud brings the maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000, according to the FBI’s complaint.
The complaint said that Kelly is currently “out of custody” and will have a court appearance on December 8.