Former San Francisco Public Works head Mohammed Nuru sentenced to 7 years

The former head of San Francisco's Public Works Department was sentenced to seven years in prison for a scheme involving bribes and kickbacks on city contracts. 

"At a time when democracy is under attack, you have weakened public confidence in our leader," Judge William H. Orrick admonished Mohammed Nuru on Thursday in federal court.  "I consider your crimes incredibly serious."

Defense lawyers had asked for a three-year sentence, while prosecutors argued for nine years saying a lengthy sentence would serve as a deterrent for others tempted to betray the city's trust.

Supervisor Aaron Peskin said the sentencing brings to an end a dark chapter in San Francisco history.

"It's been a very depressing episode," said Peskin. "If there is a silver lining, it is that our city attorney has taken it very seriously, and our Department of Public works is now the most investigated department in city government."

Nuru, who was known as "Mr. Clean" when he held the city position, resigned in 2020 after the FBI accused him of public corruption. He pleaded guilty to wire fraud in December 2021.

Following the sentencing, he issued an apology. 

"Again, I want to apologize to the people of San Francisco for my misconduct," Nuru said in a statement. "Now that sentencing is behind me, I plan to concentrate on my family and my health in the near term. I look forward to the time that I can return to serving my community and work to repair the damage that my actions caused both the City and my family."

Nuru had faced 20 years in prison after admitting to an extensive list of instances in which he accepted money, trips, jewelry, wine and other goods and services from city contractors in exchange for favors and information about city business.

Nuru has to surrender to federal authorities on January 6, 2023 to begin his sentence. His attorney asked for that time because Nuru has had recent health problems including a heart attack.