Entrepreneurs plead guilty to bribing San Francisco public official
Alan Varela and William Gilmartin III appeared in federal court on May 27 and each pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud, Acting U.S. Attorney Stephanie Hinds and the U.S. special agent in charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation Craig Fair. Gilmartin further agreed in its plea agreement to cooperate with federal investigators in its investigation into corruption at San Francisco City Hall.
“San Francisco entrepreneurs like Alan Varela, William Gilmartin and their ilk are not off the radar of our San Francisco mayoral corruption investigation just because they are not public servants,” Hinds said. “If you bribe a public official and our investigation finds out, you will be brought to justice. Those involved who come to the FBI with what they know about bribes and bribes will be treated differently from those who don’t and get caught.
“The investigation into the city government of San Francisco continues, and we believe there are even more employees and contractors in the city who may have relevant first-hand knowledge of the insidious corruption that is rampant in San Francisco, ”Fair said. “Instead of waiting for the FBI to knock on your door, we encourage others who have knowledge of this corruption to contact us and cooperate with our investigation.”
The guilty pleas follow a federal complaint on September 17, 2020, accusing Varela, 59, of Orinda, Calif., And Gilmartin, 60, of San Mateo, Calif., Of bribing a public official. According to this complaint affidavit, Varela and Gilmartin, respectively president and vice-president of the civil engineering and construction company of the bay area ProVen Management, offered gifts and benefits to Mohammed Nuru, then director of the Department of San Francisco Public Works (DPW), in exchange for inside information about an upcoming lucrative San Francisco public contract. Varela and Gilmartin were the seventh and eighth defendants indicted in the federal investigation into corruption at San Francisco City Hall which, to date, has indicted a dozen defendants.
Varela’s plea deal sets out these complaint allegations. Varela admitted in his plea agreement that from 2013 to January 28, 2020 (the day of Nuru’s arrest), he conspired with his co-accused Gilmartin; Balmore Hernandez, CEO of a San Francisco-based construction company known as AzulWorks, which previously pleaded guilty and is cooperating with the FBI; and others to pay bribes and kickbacks in Nuru. Nuru’s position as Director of DPW has enabled him to exert influence over public contracts, permits and construction projects in San Francisco, as well as other municipal departments and private companies requiring DPW contracts. . Bribes and kickbacks in Nuru were intended to influence his conduct in official actions. The valuables that Varela and his co-conspirators provided to Nuru included cash, equipment for the Nuru ranch, free meals and entertainment, and the prospect of a portion of the proceeds of expected awards. city contracts.
Varela further admitted that he and his co-conspirators focused on securing a DPW contract and related lease from the Port of San Francisco to operate an asphalt recycling plant and concrete batching plant on the lands of the Port of San Francisco. According to Varela’s plea deal, Nuru agreed, in exchange for money and other valuables, to use his official position to select the offer of Varela and his co-conspirators. Nuru began sending the first drafts of San Francisco’s RFP for the asphalt recycling plant project along with other inside information to Varela and his co-conspirators to better position them for their bid. is selected. Nuru also met regularly with Gilmartin and Hernandez to discuss plans for expensive restaurant dinners, still paid for by Gilmartin.
Under Varela’s plea deal, Gilmartin arranged to compensate Nuru by asking a limited company to award a $ 100,000 contract to Balmore Hernandez. The proceeds of this contract were to pay Nuru, and Hernandez used the proceeds for the benefit of Nuru. After the Co-Conspirators’ offer was selected in September 2015, Nuru continued to meet with Varela and the Co-Conspirators, and provide additional inside information, on all meals paid for by Gilmartin which ultimately totaled approximately $ 20,000. At one point during the discussions, Nuru requested a tractor for his ranch. Varela admitted that in February 2019, he coordinated with Gilmartin and Hernandez to deliver the tractor to Nuru.
In January 2020, while asphalt recycling plant agreements with DPW and the Port of San Francisco were still being finalized, Nuru was shut down.
Gilmartin also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit honest service wire fraud. The terms of his plea agreement require Gilmartin to cooperate with the ongoing investigation and return the assets acquired as a result of his illegal conduct. The criminal conduct admitted by Gilmartin was presented to the court in a separate room which is filed under seal and currently inaccessible to the public.
Varela and Gilmartin both pleaded guilty before US District Judge William H. Orrick. Judge Orrick has set Varela’s sentencing hearing for September 16, 2021. Gilmartin’s next hearing date is a status conference set for December 2, 2021.
Varela and Gilmartin each pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit honest service wire fraud. The charge carries a maximum legal sentence of 20 years in prison and a fine of $ 250,000 or at most double the gross gain or double the gross loss. However, any sentence following a conviction would only be imposed by the court after reviewing the United States sentencing guidelines and federal sentencing law.
The prosecution is being handled by the Corporate Fraud Strike Force of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California and is the result of an investigation by the FBI.