Federal authorities charged three former executives at a San Francisco design and engineering firm in cases involving alleged bribes to two city engineers and a building inspector. The scheme began at least as early as August 2003 and continued until February 2021, prosecutors say.
Siavash “Sia” Tahbazof, a developer and the former head of San Francisco-based SIA Consulting, along with SIA co-owner Reza Koshnevisan and Bahman Ghassemzadeh, who is Tahbazof’s nephew and worked as a civil engineer at the firm, are each facing one count of conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud, the U.S. Dept. of Justice announced Nov. 13.
Officials say the men paid bribes and kickbacks to Rodolfo Pada and Cyril Yu, who worked as engineers in the San Francisco Dept. of Building Inspection’s plan review services department, and Bernard Curran, who was a DBI building inspector and later a senior building inspector, in order to expedite building plan permitting and receive approvals on inspections.
Tahbazof provided Pada with an interest-free $85,000 loan, and Ghassemzadeh regularly took Pada for lunch and drinks and paid him bribes of between $1,200 and $1,700 each time, which Tahbazof often reimbursed, according to court documents prosecutors filed in federal court in San Francisco. Also, Tahbazof gave Yu cash, meals, drinks and other benefits and he paid Curran $30,000 for inspections, at a rate of about $1,500 each, and provided Curran with an interest-free $260,000 loan, which has not been fully repaid, according to court records.
An attorney representing Ghassemzadeh did not immediately respond to inquiries. Attorneys were not yet listed for Tahbazof or Koshnevisan. If convicted, the trio could each face sentences of as long as 20 years in prison and fines up to $250,000.
The charges resulted from an FBI investigation, according to the Justice Dept.
Yu and Pada were also separately charged earlier this month with participating in an honest services wire fraud conspiracy. Prosecutors say Pada accepted bribes from 2003 until he retired in 2017, and that Yu accepted bribes between 2018 and 2021.
Curran had been charged earlier for accepting cash payments and charitable donations from developers. He pleaded guilty last December, and in July a federal judge sentenced him to one year and a day in prison plus two years of probation. The amounts of money Curran admitted to accepting from an unnamed developer in his plea agreement match those Tahbazof is accused of providing to him.
“Curran is not the first, and he will not be the last, defendant sentenced in rooting out corruption in San Francisco,” U.S. Attorney Ismail Ramsey said in a statement at the time.
Former San Francisco public works director Mohammed Nuru was sentenced last year to seven years in prison for accepting bribes and kickbacks from contractors, several of whom have also been implicated in the case. And earlier this year, a former California Dept. of Transportation official and two contractors were sentenced to prison and to pay restitution for another bid-rigging and bribery scheme in the San Francisco Bay area.