Former Recology executive charged in San Francisco corruption scheme involving ex-public works director, FBI says

ByKayla Galloway KGO logo
Thursday, November 19, 2020
San Francisco Public Works Director Mohammed Nuru, Lefty O'Doul's owner Nick Bovis arrested by FBI on corruption charges
"The complaint alleges corruption pouring into San Francisco from around the world." One of San Francisco's highest ranking officials is facing federal corruption charges along with a well-known restaurateur.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- A former San Francisco executive at Recology, the company responsible for collecting and processing waste, has been implicated in a public corruption scheme involving the city's former public works director and a well-known restaurateur at Lefty O'Douls, the FBI announced Wednesday.

Paul Fredrick Giusti, who served as group government and community relations manager at Recology, has been charged with bribery and money laundering, the FBI said.

The allegations are connected to the public corruption scheme involving San Francisco city officials that first came to light earlier this year.

RELATED: San Francisco Public Works Director Mohammed Nuru, Lefty O'Doul's owner arrested by FBI on corruption charges

The criminal complaint alleges 64-year-old Giusti provided Mohammed Nuru, San Francisco's ex-public works director, with a "stream of money and benefits" worth more than $1 million in an effort to "influence Nuru to act in Recology's favor."

According to the FBI, Giusti agreed to pay Nuru $20,000 to garner his support for Recology's plan to implement a price increase on "tipping fees" the City of San Francisco pays to dump materials at a Recology site.

The complaint alleges the $20,000 payment was covered up as a "holiday donation" to the Lefty O'Douls Foundation for Kids.

The head of the foundation and prominent San Francisco restaurateur, Nick Bovis, is accused of using the payment for a holiday party planned by Nuru for public works employees and other guests.

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The criminal complaint says the $20,000 payment was one of "several" over many years in an effort to influence Nuru in "actions important to Recology."

"These bribes were laundered through nonprofit organizations to disguise their source and to create the false appearance of a legitimate charitable intent," U.S. Attorney David L. Anderson said Wednesday in a statement. "In return for these bribes, Nuru helped Recology obtain garbage fee increases approved by the city but paid by an unsuspecting public. As our investigation continues, each charge sheds new light on the ways and means of City Hall corruption."

The nonprofit organization was used to conceal the payments to a city official and cover them up as "charitable donations," the complaint says.

The alleged "donations" to Lefty O'Douls took place between 2016 and 2019 and paid for holiday parties, the court documents allege.

A second part of the alleged scheme involved Giusti funneling about $1 million over several years to a nonprofit organization, which was then transferred to another nonprofit and used by Nuru.

The criminal complaint also details allegations claiming Giusti arranged a job at Recology for Nuru's son. The son was then terminated, but later secured a "Recology-funded internship" at another nonprofit organization that was paid for by a grant, the FBI alleges.

RELATED: Director of SF's Public Works Mohammed Nuru and restaurateur Nick Bovis appear in federal court on corruption charges

Giusti is also accused of having Recology "secretly" pay for the funeral of a Department of Public Works employee "by having a nonprofit pay the mortuary bill and creating a fake donation invoice," according to the FBI and criminal complaint.

The Recology executive faces a total of 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 for the bribery charges. He faces a fine of $500,000 or twice the value of the property involved in the allegations, along with 20 years in prison for the money laundering charges.

Giusti is slated to make his first federal court appearance Monday in San Francisco.

The initial public corruption allegations involving Nuru and restaurateur Bovis date back to January when both were charged with honest services wire fraud in connection to a scheme to bribe a commissioner at the San Francisco airport.

The video featured at the top of this page is from an earlier report