San Francisco Official Arrested for Fraud

Harlen Kelly, former General Manager of San Francisco’s Public Utilities Commission, was arrested after FBI agents raided his house on Nov. 30. Federal prosecutors charged him with wire fraud. Prosecutors allege that Kelly has a “long-running bribery scheme and corrupt partnership” with a local construction company executive.

The charges include Kelly accepting illegal gifts like lavish family trips to both Hong Kong and mainland China. The FBI has messages from Kelly sent on the Chinese-based texting-app WeChat. He wrote, “Thank you for the best family vacation ever! A little something for everyone!”

Kelly’s wife may also be a target for investigation, as FBI documents mention her, though not by name. She is Naomi Kelly, a city administrator for San Francisco.

The recent arrest ties back to another government official who was taken into custody in January. Mohammed Nuru, who was Director of Public Works, was the first domino to fall. Allegations of corruption against Nuru date back to the early 2000s.

Nuru also took gifts like trips to Chile and China. That leads to the second domino, the person who gave these gifts to both Nuru and Kelly: Walter Wong. Wong is a contractor for San Francisco and had allegedly received millions of dollars in preferential contracts. The FBI arrested Wong in June. Both Nuru and Wong are reportedly working with the FBI.

At the moment, it is unclear if there are more dominoes to topple over. The FBI’s complaint includes allegations against “a former San Francisco mayor.” In text messages between Kelly and Wong, they referred to the unnamed mayor as 35.

The FBI wrote that 35 stands for numbers on a telephone keypad. The 3 may be the letter E, and the 5 may be L, the initials of former San Francisco mayor Ed Lee. However, Lee died from a heart attack in 2017.

San Francisco Mayor London Breed’s office said the actions described are “disturbing and unacceptable.” The Public Utilities Commission did not respond for comment. Kelly has resigned from the Commission, but his wife Naomi is continuing as a City Administrator.

Reporting by Daniel Holl, NTD News, Sacramento, California