SF Public Works Director Mohammed Nuru Resigns Amid Federal Corruption Charges

Mayor London Breed announced the resignation of Mohammed Nuru, former director of San Francisco Public Works, on Feb. 10, 2020. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)

Mohammed Nuru resigned from his post as director of the San Francisco Public Works department amid a federal corruption probe, Mayor London Breed announced Monday.

Two weeks ago, FBI agents arrested Nuru and Nick Bovis — who owns the sports bar Lefty O’Doul’s — in connection with an alleged scheme to bribe a San Francisco International Airport commissioner to secure a restaurant space at the airport. Nuru also allegedly accepted extravagant gifts from a developer who was working on a project in the city.

Breed issued a statement Monday afternoon that said the city had not fired Nuru earlier because there are laws that must be followed to terminate a public employee. "We can now move the Department forward under new leadership," she said.

San Francisco Supervisor Matt Haney had been pushing for his dismissal and said the resignation is a good first step toward overhauling the agency.

"My reaction is — finally. You know, I think this took too long — its been about two weeks since Director Nuru had been charged with five counts of public corruption, and it was important that he was dismissed or resign so that we can move forward," Haney told KQED.

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Nuru, 57, is giving up his $270,000 salary, but he has requested an application to receive his $90,000 per year pension. If he's convicted of a crime of moral turpitude, the city could invalidate that pension.

Nuru and Bovis were released on $2 million bail each, and Nuru was on paid leave until his resignation.

Nuru was a go-to bureaucrat for several mayors, including Breed, and proactively cleaned up the city's streets before media events. He oversaw the city's Public Works department since 2012 and was a deputy in the department previously.

Since Nuru's arrest, acting Director Alaric Degrafinried has been appointed to take his place at the department.

At Breed's request, San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera and Controller Ben Rosenfield have started an independent public corruption probe. Additionally, city supervisors have also called for a separate, special investigator to look into the corruption allegations.

Lawyers for the men have declined to comment on specifics except to say that their clients are good people.

The fraud charge carries a potential sentence of up to 20 years in prison if the men are convicted.

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The Associated Press and Bay City News contributed to this report.