Update, 1 p.m. Friday: After a San Francisco official pleaded not guilty on Thursday to felony bribery and corruption charges, the city still moved forward Friday with a number of actions aimed to limit the impact of the alleged bribery scheme.
The City Administrator’s Office announced it would place Lanita Henriquez on paid administrative leave following felony charges that she took bribes to award $1.4 million in contracts to an organization run by her co-conspirator, Dwayne Jones.
All the city grants Henriquez awarded to his group, RDJ Enterprises, as well as other organizations, will also be reviewed by the City Attorney’s Office in an integrity review, which looks for corruption issues, a spokesperson announced.
Additionally, the city attorney and city administrator began a process to bar Jones, and any of his affiliates, from taking any other contracts with the city.
District Attorney Brooke Jenkins also charged Jones, who was arrested separately from Henriquez, in connection with the bribery scheme. He appeared in court for the first time Friday, surrounded by a bevy of supporters who nearly filled one side of the courtroom.
Speaking from the steps of the Hall of Justice, one of those supporters, Robert Newt, who grew up in San Francisco and is from the Bayview, said Jones helped Newt turn his life around in the mid-1990s. At the time, Jones hired roughly 80 people at-risk of violence in the neighborhood and helped them change their lives, Newt said, including himself.
Now Newt serves in multiple organizations in the neighborhood trying to mentor people away from a life of violence, he said. That’s a path he credits to Jones.
“He gave me some encouragement, he gave me some mentoring, and he gave me some guidance,” Newt said. “We’re trying to break the cycle and create generational wealth, and that’s what Dwayne Jones taught me.”
Superior Court Judge Victor Hwang delayed Jones’ arraignment to Sept. 18, when he will appear beside Henriquez. He did not yet enter a plea.
Original story, Thursday, Aug. 31:
A San Francisco official in charge of disbursing community grants pleaded not guilty in Superior Court Thursday to felony bribery and corruption charges.
Lanita Henriquez, 53, who is the director of San Francisco’s Community Challenge Grant Program, was charged with multiple felony counts of bribery, misappropriation of public funds and aiding and abetting a financial conflict of interest in a government contract, District Attorney Brooke Jenkins’ Office announced Tuesday.
Jenkins also filed an affidavit in court Thursday that revealed new details about the corruption allegations: That the investigation into the corruption began after a news article initially exposed contracting misconduct, and that other city agencies — like the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission — were also targets of the investigation.
In Henriquez’s arraignment Thursday, Superior Court Judge Victor Hwang set a future hearing date of Sept. 18. Henriquez was arrested Tuesday but was later released. She left court Thursday with a small contingent of supporters.