Former SF Public Utilities Commission head Harlan Kelly was sentenced to four years in prison Monday for fraud charges, after he was found guilty of taking bribes and giving phony information on a bank loan application.

It was about ten months into the Mohammed Nuru public corruption scandal when news broke that the FBI had raided the home of a prominent SF City Hall power couple, San Francisco Public Utilities Commission general manager Harlan Kelly, and his City Administrator wife Naomi Kelly. Harlan Kelly would resign from his post on that November 2020 day, and Naomi Kelly would herself step down two months later.

Things got far more embarrassing for the Kellys when FBI investigators found cocaine in their home. Then as Harlan Kelly was facing charges of taking bribes from permit expediter Walter Wong, there were more charges of participating in bank fraud with politically connected landlord Victor Makras.

Harlan Kelly was found guilty of the bribe and bank fraud charges last July.    


Prosecutors were seeking a six-and-a-half year prison sentence for Kelly. His sentence will not be quite that severe, though, as the Chronicle reports that Kelly was sentenced to four years in prison Monday morning by US District Judge Richard Seeborg.

“Mr. Kelly participated in very serious criminal conduct,” Seeborg said Monday, according to the SF Standard. “He betrayed the public trust and made a mockery of his oath to serve the public.”


Does it make you seem less guilty, or more guilty, when Willie Brown writes a letter of recommendation for you to a judge in your corruption case? Either way, Brown continued with his famous pattern of calling for leniency for City Hall officials accused of crimes. “If I were still in government, I would do my utmost to provide Harlan Kelly with a second chance,” Brown said in his letter, according to the Chronicle, and Brown also claimed that “personal gain was never [Kelly’s] motivation” in the crimes of which he'd been found guilty.

Though it’s a highly suspect claim that Kelly never sought any personal gain, considering that the Chronicle reports that permit expediter Walter Wong  provided Kelly’s home with “a luxurious wine cellar and other amenities” at a steep discount, plus a trip to Hong Kong, in exchange for favorable permit consideration. And Kelly also got local mega-landlord Victor Makras to secretly pay off $70,000 of his loans in order to get a favorable (and fraudulent) mortgage deal.

Kelly’s attorneys hoped for leniency because he apparently had a heart attack last month. “Mr. Kelly now has a stent in his heart,” his attorney Brian Getz wrote in a letter to the judge, as the Chronicle notes. This does not seem to have swayed Judge Seeborg.


Per the SF Standard, Kelly must surrender himself to authorities on June 19. Mohammed Nuru, seen above with Harlan Kelly, is currently serving his seven-year prison sentence at a US penitentiary in Lompoc.

Related: SFPUC Chief Harlan Kelly Charged with Fraud in Expanding City Hall Scandal, Has Home Raided by FBI [SFNews]

Image: @MrCleanSF via Twitter