San Francisco

Restaurateur to Plead Guilty to Fraud Counts, to Cooperate in Ongoing Case

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A San Francisco restaurant owner who was originally charged with fraud together with the city's former public works director has agreed to plead guilty to two counts and cooperate with the ongoing investigation, federal prosecutors announced on Wednesday.

Nick Bovis, 56, of San Mateo, the owner of Lefty O'Doul's restaurant, promised in a plea agreement filed in federal court in San Francisco Wednesday to plead guilty to charges of honest services wire fraud and wire fraud.

The plea session will be held by videoconference before U.S. District Judge William Orrick of San Francisco on May 21.

The details of the two frauds are currently under seal. In an earlier phase of the case, Bovis and then-Public Works Director Mohammed Nuru were both charged in January with one count of honest services wire fraud, allegedly consisting of a never-completed scheme to bribe an San Francisco International Airport commissioner for aid in obtaining a restaurant concession in 2018.

In the plea agreement, Bovis says he will plead guilty to one count of honest services wire fraud, defined as attempting to defraud the public of the honest services of a public official through a bribery scheme that used a wire communication, and a second count of using a wire communication to carry out a fraud scheme. A list of supporting facts that he 

admits to is under seal.

Bovis also agreed to cooperate with the U.S. Attorney's Office in interviews and testimony and to provide documents in the case. The agreement says prosecutors may ask for a reduced sentence if they decide Bovis has "provided substantial assistance to law enforcement authorities."

Bovis's attorneys were not immediately available for comment.

The original honest services wire fraud charge remains pending against Nuru along with a separate charge of lying to the FBI on Jan. 27 after initially having cooperated in a corruption probe for several days.

A criminal complaint that outlined the alleged bribery scheme in the honest services fraud was filed under seal on Jan. 15. Bovis and Nuru were arrested on Jan. 27 and the complaint was unsealed after their first court appearance the following day.

Nuru resigned from his post on Feb. 10. He is free on a $2 million bond and is due to appear separately before a federal magistrate in San Francisco on May 21 for a status conference.

In a request to Orrick for the May 21 plea date for Bovis, prosecutors wrote that "in light of the importance of the case to the public interest and the need to move forward expeditiously, there are specific reasons that the change of plea cannot be further delayed without serious harm to the interests of justice."

The two counts to which Bovis plans to plead guilty each carry a maximum possible sentence of 20 years in prison, but the judge is expected to consider federal sentencing guidelines as well as any potential prosecution request for a lesser sentence.

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