Former SF official arrested for robbery at food bank, sources say

Sources tell ABC7 News that Mohammed Nuru allegedly brandished a knife at a food bank in San Francisco Wednesday and tried to steal a bag of potato chips.

Video Transcript

- New details tonight. One of San Francisco's highest-ranking officials is facing federal corruption charges along with a well-known restaurateur.

- Yes, San Francisco Director of Public Works Muhammad Nuru is alleged to have provided Lefty O'Doul's owner Nick Bovis with inside information to give him an unfair advantage in awarding contracts.

- "ABC 7 News" reporter Kate Larsen joins us now with the story. Kate.

KATE LARSEN: Well Liz, Dan, I actually interviewed Mohammed Nuru were just last Friday, three days after he was first arrested. He was eager to talk to me about his future plans with DPW, all while knowing he was deeply embroiled in a corruption scandal. This complaint was sealed at the time. Then today, the FBI said Nuru violated their agreement and lied to agents after his arrest, so they took him back into custody yesterday.

Longtime leader of San Francisco's Department of Public Works, Mohammed Nuru is accused of taking part in bribery, kickbacks, and side deals according to US Attorney David Anderson. Well-known restaurant owner Nick Bovis was also charged with honest services wire fraud.

DAVID ANDERSON: The complaint alleges corruption pouring into San Francisco from around the world.

KATE LARSEN: The complaint details an undercover FBI investigation with heavy surveillance that alleges Nuru and Bovis were involved in a scheme to bribe a San Francisco airport commissioner in exchange for the commissioner's assistance to win a contract for a restaurant lease at SFO. "ABC 7" learned that SFO commissioner is Linda Crayton. According to the complaint, she turned down a $5,000 cash bribe that Bovis brought with him to a dinner at his Burlingame restaurant Broadway Grill in April of 2018.

Nuru and Bovis are accused of multiple additional schemes to benefit their businesses and personal lives. According to Transparent California, Nuru's pay and benefits totaled more than $320,000 in 2018. Mayor London Breed placed him on administrative leave, and his bio has been taken off the DPW website.

MATT HANEY: Him and I have been butting heads for the year I've been here.

KATE LARSEN: San Francisco Supervisor Matt Haney says the city's Department of Public Works needs to be overhauled.

MATT HANEY: If you give somebody that much power where they can do whatever they want without any oversight, it allows them to do this kind of stuff. It's absolutely unacceptable, but I think he needs to both be fired and potentially-- you know, he's going to spend time in prison. But on top of that, we've got to reform this department.

KATE LARSEN: DPW said FBI investigators came to City Hall on Monday to gather documents from Nuru's office. Their statement says, "Our number one priority is to ensure that all Public Works staff stay focused on their jobs are providing critical services to the people of San Francisco." Nuru and Bovis were both released on $2 million bonds and are due in court February 6.

I spoke to numerous attorney, who sent me a statement that says in part, "The father of five and dedicated public servant looks forward to addressing the charges in court." I also spoke to Bovis' attorney, who told me it was too early for them to comment. Back to you.