SF building inspector charged with perjury, conflict of interest

Bernie Curran allegedly took a loan from developer and then approved his projects

San Francisco (iStock)
San Francisco (iStock)

An alleged quid pro quo between a San Francisco inspector and a developer has landed the city employee in jail.

District Attorney Chesa Boudin’s office has charged Bernie Curran, a former San Francisco senior building inspector, with perjury and conflict of interest, The San Francisco Chronicle reported. Curran allegedly accepted a loan from a developer and then signed off on several permits for the developer.

“My office is committed to rooting out public corruption and ensuring equal justice under the law,” Boudin said in a statement. “In my administration, no one is above the law — and public officials who breach public trust will be held accountable.”

Curran, who had worked at the department since 2005, was placed on leave in May for failing to report the $180,000 loan from Freydoon Ghassemzadeh, whose family business SIA Consulting is a leading developer in San Francisco.

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Curran is also said to have received payments from the homeowners of buildings he inspected and approved, the paper reported. Most of the projects he approved were in parts of the city that other inspectors were tasked with. He also allegedly approved a project that had not been done.

Curran’s latest troubles aren’t his first. He had been charged by the federal government with honest services wire fraud. He had allegedly worked with a former San Francisco building commissioner and structural engineer, Rodrigo Santos, in which Santos told clients to make charitable donations of $500 to $1,500 “attributable to Curran” to a nonprofit athletic organization. In exchange, Curran would provide favorable treatment.

Santos was indicted last year for bank fraud, aggravated identity theft and obstruction of justice for attempting to divert money from his clients into his own account. Tom Hui, the former director of the Department of Building Inspection, resigned in March 2022 after being suspended for allegedly accepting gifts from a developer and permit expediter.

[San Francisco Chronicle] — Gabriel Poblete

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