Authorities Accuse Ex-Recology Executive of $1 Million Bribe for Increased Fees

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Officials charged a former San Francisco executive at Recology, a waste-management company, with bribery and concealing money laundering after allegedly giving over $1 million to Mohammed Nuru over several years to gain benefits with the ex-director of public works.

On Wednesday, the federal charges on 64-year-old Paul Giusti marked the latest in a series of ongoing corruption investigations within San Francisco Hall. In January, authorities arrested Nuru and charged him with fraud after being accused of bribing an airport commissioner and not being truthful with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

Officials said that it was the government relations manager for Recology’s San Francisco office, Giusti, who was assigned to curry favor with Nuru. The dealings were done to allow the waste-management company to negotiate increased rates for providing garbage-collection services. The Public Works Director had a big hand in allowing the deliberations to proceed.

Prosecutors said that Nuru used his authority to approve the increased fees but noted that they were “approved by the city but paid by an unsuspecting public.” An anonymous Recology executive said that Nuru was the final approval required to sign off the rate increases. He said, keeping a good relationship with the ex-director was paramount.

A Recology spokesperson acknowledged on Wednesday a request for comment but did not immediately give a response. Giusti, on the other hand, ignored any attempts to contact him, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

In January, officials charged Nuru and Nick Bovis with one count of wire fraud for allegedly trying to bribe an airport commissioner to take the restaurant lease at San Francisco Airport. In exchange, the two suspects would have provided a hefty sum to the official and planned to give him a vacation.

Federal described the kickback scheme and four other misconducts after extensively monitoring Nuru and Bovis using wiretaps and undercover operators since 2018. Authorities detailed another time that Nuru shared an expensive bottle of wine worth $2,070 with a billionaire Chinese developer and hiring city contractors to handle his vacation home development.

Authorities also accused Nuru of assisting Bovis acquire contracts for a Transbay Transit Center restaurant and providing mobile shelters and toilets to homeless people. U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California, David Anderson, said the complaint detailed the corruption allegations that Nuru conducted globally and brought back to San Francisco, the San Francisco Examiner reported.

Officials also discovered one financial accounting document under the California Public Records Act. It revealed how contractors, a non-profit organization, and several other large firms contributed up to $1 million in the last five years that funded Public Works officials’ souvenirs and parties.

An investigation revealed the documents that found the fund to be named under the San Francisco Parks Alliance, a multi-million dollar non-profit organization focused on developing and preserving the region’s public spaces. However, the documents showed how Nuru and other Public Works officials benefited from the funds for personal use.

Former city supervisor Quentin Kopp said that spending tens of thousands of dollars on t-shirts, ball caps, and other attire was questionable. The records also showed how the fund was used to cover the costs of custom outfits for Black History Month and Arbor day, employee health fire lunch bags, and Bay to Breakers Race special bandanas.

City contractors and RPW project builders donated most of the funds, but the checks were made to the Parks Alliance and not the Public Works Department. The agency’s annual report showed dozens of city development projects and several hundreds of donors but did not contain any contributions to the Public Works fund, the NBC Bay Area reported.

Danielle Joyce Ong

Danielle is a local journalist with a passion for exploring stories related to crime and politics. When Danielle isn't busy writing or reading, she is usually exploring the great outdoors and all the hiking trails in the Bay.