SAN FRANCISCO—On Thursday, August 25, Former San Francisco City Hall public official Mohammed Colin Nuru, was sentenced to 7 years in prison for honest services wire fraud. This case involved multiple government officials.
In January of 2020, Nuru, 59, was first arrested after a criminal complaint was filed against him. The complaint alleged that during Nuru’s tenure with Department of Public Works he ran a scheme of bribes and received kickbacks from multiple agencies. At the time, Nuru was the Director of the San Francisco DPW. In that same month another complaint was filed against him for allegedly lying to an FBI agent.
Nuru’s attorneys had asked for a three-year sentence, which Judge William Orrick said didn’t “come close to recognizing the gravity of this case.” He also sentenced Nuru to three years of probation and ordered him to pay $35,000 in fines.
According to United States Attorney Stephanie Hinds, “As San Francisco’s Department of Public Works Deputy Director and then its Director, Nuru owed the people of San Francisco a duty of faithful, honest services. Instead, he betrayed that duty. For at least twelve years, Nuru shook down contractors eager for City business, trading his authority and influence for millions of dollars in cash, construction work, travel, meals, and gifts. His abhorrent conduct erodes the public’s trust in its government, and this case demonstrates the justice system can and will punish corrupt public officials.”
According to investigators, much of the bribes Nuru received was used to repair and upgrade the Colusa County ranch he had the intention of retiring at. As a part of the plea agreement, Nuru had to forfeit the ranch. Prosecutors in-turn dropped additional charges which including money laundering and lying to the FBI.
One of Nuru’s admissions involved a city contractor by the name of Walter Wong. Nuru accepted envelopes of cash containing as much as $5,000 at a time from Wong, and Wong bribed Nuru with more than $260,000 in construction labor and materials provided to Nuru’s San Francisco home and his vacation ranch property located in Stonyford in Colusa County. Wong also paid for Nuru’s travels to China and South America. This scheme insured Wong’s company would have secured contracts with the city by providing Wong with confidential information on competitors’ bids, and by helping Wong expedite permit approvals.
Nuru wrote a four page letter apologizing for violating the trust of the San Francisco people. “I accept full responsibility for violating the public trust,” he wrote. “I hope and pray that the sentence will allow me to demonstrate afterward that I have learned my lesson.”