The San Francisco Airport commissioner caught up in an ongoing corruption scandal involving the city’s public works director and a well-known restaurant owner resigned late Wednesday, citing medical reasons.
Linda S. Crayton, referred to in the complaint only as “Airport Commissioner 1,” allegedly took part in a meeting in April 2018 at a Burlingame restaurant, where prosecutors say she turned down a $5,000 cash bribe offered to help secure a restaurant lease at SFO.
The man accused of offering the money, Lefty O’Doul’s owner Nick Bovis, is currently charged with one count of wire fraud and faces up to 20 years in prison. Prosecutors say San Francisco Public Works Director Mohammed Nuru set up the meeting. He faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted in the corruption case.
“San Francisco has been betrayed as alleged in the complaint,” said Northern California U.S. Attorney David Anderson, in announcing the charges.
According to court documents, secret recordings captured Crayton bragging about her ability to deliver a deal, but then turning down the cash. She still promised to help, according to court documents, because “Mohammed is asking me” in the recordings, adding that Nuru “never asks me for anything.”
She allegedly told the two men she considered arranging the lease deal because that’s what she’s “supposed to do…”
“I’m getting old, I’ve been on that commission a long time…this is insane.”
In the end, Bovis didn’t get the lease, but commissioner Crayton never reported she had met privately with a prospective vendor, nor any bribery attempt.
“If somebody’s trying to bribe you, you gotta call the cops,” said San Francisco Supervisor Aaron Peskin, who called Wednesday for every city official implicated in the scandal to resign. “The whole thing stinks to high heaven,” he said. “Everybody involved in this needs to be held to account – this is big and it is terrible”
Mayor London Breed, in her first remarks since details of the scandal broke on Tuesday, said she was “surprised and very disappointed,” and is still investigating the allegations. For now, she says, the city purchasing manager will fill in for the suspended Nuru, who is now out as head of the Transbay Transit governing board.
“We do the best that we can,” she said, “and when things happen, unfortunately, it’s important that we reevaluate and determine if there is something else we can do better to assure the appropriate checks and balances.”
Nuru faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted of wire fraud, and five years for allegedly lying to the FBI.
Randall Knox, Crayton’s attorney, said late Wednesday it’s not entirely clear whether his client knew what was going on during that meeting, confirming that she was the commissioner mentioned in the federal court documents.
“She is innocent of wrongdoing. She wants to cooperate with the investigation,” Knox said.
In her resignation letter, Crayton – who served 24 years on the commission -- makes no mention of any recent events, saying only that she’s been “struggling with multiple, severe medical conditions for several years, and they have worsened, forcing me to spend more and more time receiving treatment.”
She adds, “The bottom line is, the demands of my medical treatment have increased to the point that I cannot continue to serve on the Commission.”