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Ex-San Francisco building commissioner charged with fraud

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SAN FRANCISCO — A former San Francisco city building commissioner has been charged with bank fraud after he allegedly pocketed $478,000 intended for city agencies, federal prosecutors announced.

Rodrigo Santos, 61, was arrested Tuesday and booked into jail but was later released on a $100,000 bond, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a statement.

His attorney, David Ericksen, did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Associated Press.

Santos, co-founder of Santos and Urrutia Structural Engineers, Inc., was appointed to the city’s Building Inspection Commission by Mayor Willie Brown in 2000, and was promoted to commission president by Mayor Gavin Newsom in 2004.

Santos allegedly collected 261 checks from clients that were written to city departments, companies or another individual, then forged signatures on the checks and deposited them in his bank account, according to a complaint by the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

When confronted with the evidence, Santos submitted forged invoices to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the complaint said.

The criminal case against Santos follows a civil suit by City Attorney Dennis Herrera announced in March. In the suit, Herrera accused Santos of stealing money from his clients and also alleged he and his associates engaged in permit fraud regarding at least nine different properties in San Francisco.

“Our case against Mr. Santos exposed both how he undermined public safety and how he defrauded his own clients,” Herrera said. “Our team developed a detailed case against Mr. Santos, and I’m glad the U.S. Attorney’s Office used that information to help build their criminal case.”

If convicted of the federal charges, Santos faces a statutory maximum of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine.

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