Former San Francisco garbage company executive pleads guilty to honest services fraud conspiracy


Former Recology Inc. executive admits to role in paying more than 55,000 dollars in bribes to Mohammed Nuru, former director of the San Francisco Department of Public Works

Date: May 3, 2023


John Francis Porter pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court in San Francisco to conspiring to commit honest services mail and wire fraud, admitting that he participated in a scheme with another Recology executive to bribe the former head of the San Francisco Department of Public Works, Mohammed Nuru, announced the United States Attorney’s Office, Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) Special Agent in Charge Darren Lian and FBI Special Agent in Charge Robert K. Tripp. The guilty plea was accepted by the Honorable William H. Orrick, United States District Court. 

Porter is the former Vice President and Group Manager of the SF Recology Group. According to his plea agreement, Porter admitted that he conspired with another former Recology executive and others to pay bribes to influence Nuru. The bribes included $55,000 in payments for holiday parties Nuru hosted for friends, political supporters, and select DPW employees, from October 2017 through January 2020.

According to Porter’s admissions in the plea agreement, the payments were concealed as “holiday donations” to a non-profit, the Lefty O’Doul’s Foundation for Kids, a charity established to provide access to baseball and baseball equipment for under-privileged children. Porter admitted in his plea agreement that he knew the funds were not being used for that purpose, but instead were made at the request of Nuru and used for his holiday parties. 

Porter admitted that the bribes were made to influence Nuru to take official action and exercise influence in Recology’s favor, including making official decisions in his role at DPW that would benefit Recology’s business.

On November 29, 2022, a federal grand jury returned a superseding indictment, charging Porter with one count of conspiracy to commit honest services mail and wire fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. Section 1349, two counts of honest services wire fraud in violation of 18 U.S.C. Sections 1346 and 1343, one count of honest services mail fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. Sections 1341 and 1346, one count of conspiracy to commit bribery in violation of 18 U.S.C. Section 371, and one count of bribery of a local official, in violation of 18 U.S.C. Sections 666(a)(2) and 2. Pursuant to today’s guilty plea, Porter pleaded guilty to the conspiracy to commit honest services wire and mail fraud count. If Porter complies with the plea agreement, the additional counts will be dismissed at sentencing.

Judge Orrick scheduled Porter’s sentencing for September 7, 2023. Porter faces a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000. In addition, as part of any sentence, a court may order up to three years of supervised release, restitution, forfeiture, and additional assessments, if appropriate. However, any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the court only after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. Section 3553.

Porter is the second Recology executive to plead guilty. In July 2021, Paul F. Giusti, a former Government & Community Relations Manager with Recology, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to bribe a local official and to commit honest services fraud, admitting to participating in a conspiracy to bribe Nuru. Giusti has not yet been sentenced.

Nuru was charged in January 2020 with a long-running honest services fraud scheme. On January 6, 2022, Nuru pled guilty to honest services wire fraud, and on August 25, 2022 was sentenced to 84 months in federal prison.

In September 2021, three subsidiaries of Recology that serve San Francisco have entered a deferred prosecution agreement related to the charge of conspiracy to commit honest services fraud and have agreed to pay $36 million in criminal penalties. 

The case is being prosecuted by the Corporate and Securities Fraud Section of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California. Assistant U.S. Attorneys David Ward and Ilham Hosseini are prosecuting the case. The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).