Former San Francisco DPW Boss Mohammed Nuru Pleads Guilty to Corruption Charges

“Mohammed Nuru, the former director of San Francisco Public Works officially pleaded guilty Thursday to a federal fraud charge,” the San Francisco Chronicle reports, “marking perhaps the most definitive development to date in the City Hall corruption scandal that has ensnared department heads and city contractors.” As this column noted in February 2020, Nuru “should have been axed years ago.” 

Nuru was a favorite of Willie Brown and worked for his mayoral campaigns. In 2000, Brown hired Nuru as Department of Public Works deputy director of operations, and soon staff complaints rolled in about Nuru flaunting city rules and misusing public funds. Nuru took over as DPW boss in 2011, and excrement began piling up on San Francisco streets. 

As NBC News headlined a 2018 story, “San Francisco Paid Firm $400K for Research Claiming City is Nearly Spotless; Complaints Over Trash, Needles, Feces Soaring.” That was Nuru’s doing, and the DPW boss kept his job as the excrement piled up to record levels. That year, according to, Nuru received $323,733 in total compensation. 

In late January of 2020, the FBI arrested Mohammed Nuru and restauranteur Nick Bovis for a scheme to bribe an official of the Airport Commission. “The complaint describes a web of corruption involving bribery, kickbacks, and side deals by one of San Francisco’s highest-ranking city employees,” the U.S. Attorney said in a statement. “The public is entitled to honest work from public officials, free from manipulation for the official’s own personal benefit and profit.” 

The city of San Francisco did not fire Nuru, who finally resigned on Monday, February 10, 2020. Nearly two years later, he pleads guilty and federal prosecutors seek a sentence of at least nine years. A hearing is slated for May, and in the meantime conditions from Nuru’s watch as DPW boss still prevail. 

Scott McKenzie urged San Francisco visitors to wear flowers in their hair. Those visitors now need to watch where they step. As a takeoff on “California Dreaming” now making rounds puts it, “all the streets are brown.”

K. Lloyd Billingsley is a Policy Fellow at the Independent Institute and a columnist at American Greatness.
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