Building contractor Walter Wong to plead guilty to charges connected to SF corruption case

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Building contractor Walter Wong will plead guilty to charges connected to the San Francisco public corruption scandal involving former San Francisco Public Works Director Mohammed Nuru and restaurateur Nick Bovis.

Wong will plead guilty to conspiracy to commit fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering, according to US Attorney David Anderson.

"Mr. Wong is a longtime, well-known San Francisco building contractor, for years he has lined his pockets through bribes to city officials," said John Bennett, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

More than 15 years according to prosecutors. Walter Wong has agreed to cooperate with the government. He follows local restaurateur Nick Bovis' lead as the second defendant in the case to plead guilty in exchange for the possibility of a reduced sentence.

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

"He is a piece of a much larger puzzle," said Bennett.

"We allege more than a decade of fraud and money laundering involving one of San Francisco's highest ranking public employees, one of its most well-known permit expediters and others who are not named at this time including other public officials," said David Anderson, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California.

Prosecutors say that puzzle began with Nuru.

"We allege more than a decade of fraud and money laundering involving one of San Francisco's highest ranking public employees, one of its most well-known permit expeditors and others who are not named at this time including other public officials," said David Anderson, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California.

"Pay to play was the name of this game," said IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge Kareem Carter.

RELATED: San Francisco city attorney subpoenas 8 organizations, including PG&E, in Public Works corruption investigation

One that is not over yet.

"This investigation is not going away," said Anderson.

Anderson says prosecutors will sharply distinguish between those who cooperate and those who do not.

In January, San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera issued 14 more subpoenas in the case. The 14 subpoenas issued focus on the mixed-use project at 555 Fulton Street on Wong, who is a permit expediter and contractor, Zhang li, the developer and other businesses tied to the project.

The subpoenas sought a range of records, including documents that could show things of services of value being provided to a City employee or official, or to a City employee or official's family member. That was the second round of subpoenas in the investigation after the city attorney issued 10 of them to eight organizations on Feb. 12. The businesses included PG&E, construction firms Webcor, Pankow and Clark Construction; waste management company Recology; and three nonprofits: Lefty O'Doul's Foundation for Kids, the San Francisco Parks Alliance, and the San Francisco Clean City Coalition.

Federal officials have accused Nuru and Bovis of designing several corruption schemes, including allegedly trying to steer city contracts to Bovis. Nuru is also accused of lying to the FBI, having city contractors perform free or discounted work on his vacation home and accepting luxury travel gifts from a developer.
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