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Former S.F. building inspector, building commissioner indicted

San Francisco Chronicle logo San Francisco Chronicle 11/17/2021 By Lauren Hernández
© Leah Millis / The San Francisco Chronicle 2014

A former San Francisco senior building inspector and former city building commissioner were indicted in federal court Tuesday on charges of conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud and committing honest services wire fraud, records show.

Rodrigo Santos, a former building commissioner, asked his clients to make charitable contributions to San Francisco Golden Gate Rugby Association “intending that those donations would influence” then-San Francisco senior building inspector Bernie Curran “in the performance of his official duties,” according to the indictment filed in the Northern District of California in San Francisco. Curran would then give Santos’ clients “favorable official treatment in his capacity” as a senior building inspector, the indictment says.

The two “engaged in a conspiracy and scheme” starting “no later than” May 2017 and continued their alleged criminal activity through at least April 2020.

In a text message from Santos to a client on Jan. 20, 2019, according to the indictment, Santos wrote, “Drop off a check payable to Golden Gate Rugby Association for $500. This will smooth the inspection with the Senior DBI Inspector.”

The indictment alleges that Santos would tell his clients to write checks to the Rugby Association and deliver them to him so he could personally deliver the checks to Curran. The practice would ensure that Curran “knew that” Santos “had arranged the donation,” the indictment says.

“(Rugby Association) donations from Santos’ clients totaled $9,600 from May 2017 through April 2019,” the indictment says.

The indictment is the latest in a federal investigation into corruption at San Francisco City Hall. It also comes nearly three months after U.S. Attorney’s Office filed wire fraud charges against both men.

Curran and Santos concealed the donations from the city’s Department of Building Inspection, according to the indictment.

“Their concealment of the scheme allowed it to continue because if DBI had known about the (Rugby Association) donations from Santos’ clients, Curran would not have been permitted to inspect properties associated with Santos,” the indictment says.

Federal officials said Curran attempted to continue to conceal the conduct between January 2020 and April 2020 by deleting text messages with Santos from his cell phone.

Lauren Hernández is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: lauren.hernandez@

sfchronicle.com Twitter: @ByLHernandez

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