FBI: SF trash company exec charged in Nuru scandal

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SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) — A San Francisco trash company executive has been charged with bribery and money laundering, the latest charges filed related to the ongoing public corruption investigation involving San Francisco city government officials, the FBI San Francisco announced Wednesday.

The complaint alleges that Paul Fredrick Giusti, the former Group Government & Community Relations Manager for Recology’s San Francisco Group, partook in a long-term scheme to defraud the public of its rights to honest services and laundered money in the process.

The complaint claims that Giusti, 64, of San Francisco, provided Nuru with money and benefits, ultimately worth more than $1 million to influence Nuru to act in Recology’s favor.

According to the complaint, Giusti agreed to give $20,000 to Mohammed Nuru, then San Francisco’s Director of Public Works, to secure Nuru’s support for Recology’s efforts to implement a price increase on the “tipping fees” it charged the City to dump materials at a Recology facility. 

As part of the scheme, Giusti covered up the bribe as a “holiday donation” from Recology to the Lefty O’Doul’s Foundation for Kids, a non-profit organization for underprivileged children in San Francisco.

“Today’s complaint alleges that Paul Giusti bribed Mohammed Nuru with more than $1 million of party funds and other benefits,” said U.S. Attorney David L. Anderson.  “These bribes were laundered through non-profit organizations to disguise their source and to create the false appearance of a legitimate charitable intent.  In return for these bribes, Nuru helped Recology obtain garbage fee increases approved by the City but paid by an unsuspecting public.  As our investigation continues, each charge sheds new light on the ways and means of City Hall corruption.”

Giusti disguised several Recology payments as charitable donations, according to the complaint. Part of the alleged scheme involved Giusti arranging for Recology to “donate” to the Lefty O’Doul’s Foundation for Kids from 2016 to 2019, money which was used at Nuru’s direction to pay for DPW holiday parties. 

Another part of the scheme involved Giusti, also at Nuru’s direction, arranging for Recology to provide approximately $1 million in regular payments over several years to a local non-profit organization.

Finally, the complaint alleges Giusti arranged for Recology to secretly pay for the funeral of a DPW employee by having a non-profit pay the mortuary bill and creating a fake donation invoice.  The complaint outlines that Giusti timed several “donations” and other benefits to coordinate with key decision points in Recology’s requests for assistance and approvals from DPW, particularly Recology’s successful 2017 application to increase rates to San Francisco residents for garbage service.

The charges contained in the criminal complaint are allegations. As in any criminal case, the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.

Giusti is charged with one count of bribery and one count of laundering the proceeds of honest services fraud. If convicted of bribery, he faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000. If convicted of concealment money laundering, he faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, a fine of $500,000 or twice the value of the property involved in the transaction, or both.

Giusti is expected to be scheduled to make his initial appearance in federal court in San Francisco on November 23, 2020 before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley. 

The case is being prosecuted by the Corporate Fraud Strike Force of the U.S. Attorney’s Office.  The case is being investigated by IRS Criminal Investigation and the FBI.

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