The affidavit underlying the federal bank fraud costs leveled towards former Constructing Inspection Fee president Rodrigo Santos final week methodically lists the 461 checks – totaling almost $480,000 – he allegedly misdirected into his private Bank of America account.
The overwhelming majority — 192 between January 2016 and March 2019 — had been made out to the Division of Constructing Inspection (or “DBI”; it will loom massive). Former Santos purchasers interviewed by the FBI declare they had been instructed to ship Santos clean checks made out to metropolis companies, which had been then deposited in Santos’ personal bank account.
However there have been additionally two checks for “Asha Safai” (sic), for $1,000.
Ahsha Safaí is the supervisor for San Francisco’s District 11, the Excelsior and Crocker Amazon. He advised Mission Native that he has no thought how checks made out to him had been allegedly pocketed by Santos.
“I have no knowledge of this at all,” he mentioned. After being emailed the FBI affidavit, he replied, “I still have no idea, sir.”
It’s yet another weird element in a weird case, wherein Santos — a structural engineer appointed to the Constructing Inspection Fee by Mayor Willie Brown, reappointed by Mayor Gavin Newsom, and later named to the Metropolis School Board of Trustees by Mayor Ed Lee — is accused of soliciting purchasers to write down checks to DBI, DPW, or, it might appear “Asha Safai,” after which appropriating them.
Jarringly, Santos is accused in a minimum of one occasion of altering a verify made out to “DBI” to learn “RoDBIgo Santos.” In different events, he purportedly merely signed the checks over to himself on their reverse.
The federal case comes on the heels of comparable costs made in a Metropolis Lawyer’s lawsuit vs. Santos and enterprise companion Albert Urrutia, not solely alleging verify fraud but in addition claiming the extremely linked engineers misrepresented main building and excavation as minor work with a purpose to expediently receive permits. They had been additionally accused of forging signatures and an engineer’s stamp on a number of properties.
The FBI affidavit, penned by Particular Agent Allison Lopez, states that Santos’ bank data had been obtained by grand jury subpoena. She interviewed a number of former Santos purchasers, who mentioned they had been advised their checks had been for metropolis permits. In some cases, these purchasers obtained written directions to write down clean checks to metropolis companies from Alex Santos, an engineer at Santos & Urrutia, and Rodrigo Santos’ son.
The FBI took stock on the 461 checks allegedly misdirected into Santos’ bank account.
Lopez notes that she approached Rodrigo Santos on March 2 of this yr. “At the conclusion of that interview,” she wrote, “I served a grand jury subpoena directed to Santos & Urrutia for documents, DBI receipts, etc. related to six specific checks connected to the above-described bank fraud scheme.”
On March 27, she continues, Santos’ legal professional emailed paperwork to a pair of US Attorneys. These paperwork included an bill, indicating purchasers whose checks to metropolis departments had ended up in Santos’ private bank account subsequently obtained a credit score.
“Our investigation, however, has revealed that this invoice is not genuine,” Lopez wrote. She contacted the purchasers, who supplied their very own copy of the bill. It didn’t embody any reference to credit. On prime of accusations of bank fraud, Santos is charged with offering bogus, altered supplies to the feds.
Whereas the affidavit notes in meticulous element to whom the checks that allegedly ended up in Santos’ account had been made out to, it doesn’t word who wrote the checks. Particular person purchasers are referred to by their initials, and pictures of the checks are redacted. So the circumstances behind why checks made out to Safaí had been deposited in Santos’ account stay unclear.
Calls to Santos’ workplace weren’t returned as of press time. Safaí himself says he has no thought. It warrants mentioning that the donation restrict for a supervisor is $500 and two checks made out to Safaí for $1,000 had been allegedly misdirected into Santos’ account. It’s potential that Santos solicited donations for the supervisor — which he allegedly saved.
Along with Safaí, Santos can be accused of pocketing checks written to Golden Gate Youth Hockey, Golden Gate Youth Rugby, and different entities that aren’t metropolis departments.
He stays free on a $100,000 bond.
In case you learn us usually, please help our reporting. We rely on you.