Nick Bovis

Nick Bovis

A restaurant owner pleaded guilty to two criminal charges in federal court in San Francisco on Thursday and agreed to cooperate with U.S. prosecutors in an ongoing corruption case against the city’s former public works director.

Nick Bovis, 56, of San Mateo, the owner of Lefty O’Doul’s restaurant in San Francisco and the Broadway Grill in Burlingame, entered the plea before U.S. District William Orrick.

Bovis and then-Public Works Director Mohammed Nuru were originally both charged in January with one count of honest services wire fraud, allegedly carried out in an unsuccessful scheme to bribe a San Francisco International Airport commissioner for aid in obtaining a restaurant concession in 2018.

Bovis pleaded guilty to revised charges of one count of honest services wire fraud and a second count using a wire communication to carry out the fraud.

The details of the two charges are in a sealed document and were not revealed in court. Orrick asked Bovis whether he had read the sealed document and agreed the facts were true, and the restaurateur answered, “Yes, it’s true.”

Nuru resigned from his post in February and is free on a $2 million bond. He faces the charge of honest services wire fraud plus an additional charge of lying to the FBI on Jan. 27 after having initially cooperated with the probe for several days.

The criminal complaint filed against Nuru and Bovis on Jan. 15 also alleged Nuru participated in four other schemes, including allegedly aiding a Chinese developer with a San Francisco project in exchange for gifts including luxury accommodations in China and allegedly giving Bovis inside information for bids on city contracts.

Nuru has not been charged with any of the other alleged schemes. An FBI agent who wrote an affidavit accompanying the Jan. 15 criminal complaint said the other allegations were included to show a purported “pattern of corrupt conduct and intent to defraud.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott Joiner noted during the court hearing that Bovis’ plea agreement requires him to answer truthfully to any questions asked by prosecutors in interviews, grand jury proceedings or trials.

Orrick tentatively set a sentencing date of Dec. 3, but Joiner said prosecutors may ask for a postponement if Bovis’ cooperation is not completed by then.

The two counts each carry a possible maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, but the judge is expected to consider federal sentencing guidelines as well as any prosecution request for a reduced sentence. The plea agreement filed last week says prosecutors may ask for a lesser sentence if they determine Bovis has provided “substantial assistance to law enforcement authorities.”

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the hearing was held by video conference, with only the judge physically present in the Federal Building courtroom.

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