SAN FRANCISCO - Paul Fredrick Giusti, the former Group Government & Community Relations Manager for the San Francisco group of a waste management company, was charged in an information filed yesterday with one count of conspiracy to bribe a local official and commit honest services fraud and has agreed in a plea agreement to plead guilty and cooperate with federal investigators in the corruption investigation into San Francisco City Hall, announced Acting United States Attorney Stephanie M. Hinds, Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge Craig D. Fair, and Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Acting Special Agent in Charge Michael Daniels.
Giusti, 65, of San Francisco, was originally charged in a federal criminal complaint filed on November 18, 2020, that alleged Giusti, who worked in the San Francisco group of the waste management company, was a central player in helping the company bribe Mohammed Nuru, then San Francisco’s Director of the Department of Public Works (DPW), with a continuous stream of benefits and money, ultimately worth over $1 million, to influence Nuru to perform official acts that would favor the waste management company.
The federal information filed yesterday elaborates on the steps Giusti allegedly took to bribe Nuru. According to the information’s allegations, Nuru was a powerful San Francisco public official who, in his position as DPW Director, presided over the rate process governing how much the waste management company could charge residents of San Francisco for solid waste collection services. Nuru further influenced rates known as “tipping fees” that the company charged DPW when DPW dumped materials at one of the company’s facilities. Nuru’s power and influence over City business also extended beyond DPW matters to other City departments and agencies.
The information alleges that between 2014 and January 2020, Giusti conspired with others to direct a stream of payments and benefits from the waste management company to Nuru, directly or through his designees. The payments and benefits included gifts, services, financial contributions to organizations, and other things of value including the following: (1) payments of approximately $150,000 per year, in $30,000 installments, from 2014 into 2019 to a San Francisco non-profit organization, knowing that Nuru ultimately controlled this money; (2) $60,000 from 2016 to 2019 to fund the annual DPW holiday party, made as “holiday donations” to the Lefty O’Doul’s Foundation for Kids; (3) a job provided to Nuru’s son at the waste management company’s subsidiary; and (4) internships funded by the waste management company for Nuru’s son in the summer of 2017 and summer of 2018 at a San Francisco non-profit on whose board Giusti served. The information alleges these payments and benefits were made with the knowledge and approval of Giusti’s supervisor and were intended to reward or influence Nuru in exchange for official acts or influence in matters that would benefit the waste management company, all while depriving San Francisco of the honest services of its DPW Director.
Giusti has agreed to cooperate with federal investigators in the ongoing federal investigation. According to a court filing, “Mr. Giusti has signed a cooperation plea agreement in which he has agreed to plead guilty and testify, provide documents, and otherwise assist in the government’s investigation.”
Giusti was arraigned today on the information in federal magistrate court before United States Magistrate Judge Alex G. Tse. He is currently scheduled to make his initial appearance on August 9, 2021, before United States District Judge Chhabria in San Francisco, however, a notice of related case has been filed, the ultimate result of which may be a change in time and place of the hearing. Giusti remains out of custody on bond.
The charges contained in the information are mere 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 conspiracy to bribe a local official and to commit honest services fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371. If convicted of this charge, he faces a maximum penalty of 5 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or gross loss, whichever is higher. However, any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the court only after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.
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.