Public Corruption Scandal

Top Public Works Official Questioned in Corruption Probe

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Another public works official has become embroiled in San Francisco’s widening corruption scandal after an e-mail emerged that could show he was involved in soliciting a contractor’s charitable donation that investigators say was funneled into a Public Works department holiday event last year.

Ron Alameida, a deputy director at the city’s Department of Public Works,  served a key oversight role in the massive Transbay Terminal project, which was dogged by problems including cracked beams that forced its shutdown last year.

NBC Bay Area’s Investigative Unit has learned that Alameida was called in Wednesday to answer questions from City Attorney investigators about an email last year, in which Alameida gave instructions on where to send a check for the Lefty O’Doul’s Foundation for Kids Toy Drive.

The company that built much of the Transbay project, Webcor, cited that email while saying it wrote a $3,000 check at the request of Alameida.

But the City Attorney’s office contends that the money didn’t go to help kids, but rather to help pay for a $30,000 holiday party for Public Works.

“Webcor is fully cooperating with the City Attorney’s subpoena,” said Sam Singer, spokesman for Webcor, a major construction company that is now suing the city over the Transbay project.  

Singer says officials with the Public Works Department solicited Webcor donations to the Lefty O’Doul’s Foundation for the last five years, and the company gave between $3,000 and $5,000 annually.

Singer said Webcor did not consider the charitable requests to be unusual at the time.

“We’re very concerned that money intended to go to children was in some manner misused or misdirected without Webcor’s knowledge,” Singer said.

Investigative documents show investigators suspect a larger scheme to funnel money to a holiday party at DPW and possibly other city agencies, and the City Attorney’s office this week subpoenaed records from four other private companies and three non-profits, including the Lefty O’Doul’s Foundation, started by Nick Bovis.

Bovis, owner of Lefty O’Doul’s restaurant, faces federal charges of arranging a $5,000 bribe to an airport commissioner with the help of former Public Works Director Mohammed Nuru. Nuru, who is charged with corruption and lying to the FBI, recently resigned.

All the subpoenaed companies say they are cooperating with the investigation.

Alameida on Thursday referred comment to Public Works, but a department spokeswoman said she could not comment on a pending investigation.

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