SAN FRANCISCO—On Monday, June 8, it was announced that three more arrests were made in connection to a San Francisco City Hall corruption investigation. The charges were revealed to the public by United States Attorney David L. Anderson; Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge John F. Bennett of the San Francisco Division; and Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation, Special Agent in Charge Kareem Carter.
Those arrested included: Sandra Zuniga, 44, of San Francisco’s Fix-It Director and Director of the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services; Balmore Hernandez, 55, former longtime employee of San Francisco’s Department of Public Works and current Chief Executive Officer and Vice President of San Francisco-based construction engineering firm AzulWorks; and Florence Kong, 62, owner of two San Francisco-based construction companies, Kwan Wo Ironworks and SFR Recovery.
The charges and arrests of Zuniga, Hernandez, and Kong were related to the January 2020 arrest of Mohammed Nuru, 57, former Director of San Francisco’s Department of Public Works. Nuru was criminally charged for allegedly bribing an unnamed San Francisco International Airport commissioner, attempting to obtain free and discounted labor and construction equipment from contractors in order to build a vacation home, as well as several other schemes. Nuru is currently awaiting trial and is out on bail.
According to the criminal complaint against Zuniga, she was Nuru’s romantic partner and was allegedly aware of the crimes taking place and benefitted from them. The complaint against Zuniga claims that she laundered illegally obtained money in “a variety of transactions over a period of several years,” according to the press release. It is alleged that from March 2014 to January 2020, Zuniga made over $135,000 in cash deposits, not including her paychecks from the city of San Francisco.
Hernandez was accused of using his personal relationship with Nuru in order to “obtain advantages” with the city of SF for his construction engineering firm, AzulWorks. Hernandez allegedly provided Nuru with free labor and materials to build the aforementioned vacation home in exchange for Nuru’s assistance with construction contracts and approvals from the city. This allowed Hernandez’s company to bypass certain rules and regulations for construction as well as winning a nearly $2 million contract from the city of San Francisco.
Charges against Kong claim she lied to the FBI during their investigation into Nuru by stating that she had not discussed business with him. Kong claimed that Nuru never assisted either of her companies when obtaining contracts with the city. According to the press release, the complaint filed against Kong contained records of phone calls in which she “sought to obtain business for her companies from DPW.” The complaint noted that Kong provided Nuru with cash, luxury gifts, and an installation gate for his vacation home in exchange for favors with the City.
Zuniga is charged with one count of conspiracy to launder money. If convicted, she faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, a fine of $500,000, or both. Hernandez is charged with bribery. If convicted, he faces a maximum of 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000. Kong is charged with making false statements. If convicted, she faces a maximum of five years in prison and a fine of $250,000.