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Former S.F. Building Commissioner Arrested By FBI

Former San Francisco building commissioner Rodrigo Santos has been arrested and charged with bank fraud, the U.S. Department of Justice said Tuesday

San Francisco

Federal officials allege Santos diverted funds clients meant for the San Francisco Department of Building Inspection and other city departments into his personal bank account, U.S. Attorney David L. Anderson and FBI Special Agent in Charge John F. Bennett said this week.

Arrested Tuesday morning, Santos has since been released on a $100K bond. If convicted of bank fraud, he faces a maximum of 30 years in prison and a $1M fine. 

Santos, currently the principal and co-founder of Santos & Urrutia Structural Engineers, is a former appointee to the San Francisco Building Inspection Commission and served as its president in 2004. Since 2018, he has faced a civil suit from City Attorney Dennis Herrera that accuses him and his firm of skirting excavation requirements "to game San Francisco's permit system using deception, insider knowledge and forged documents."

Between 2016 and 2019, Santos allegedly deposited 261 checks totaling $478K into his personal account. In one alleged instance, homeowners wrote a check in the amount of about $1.3K made out to "DBI," only for Santos to add letters and change the writing to "RoDBIgo SANTOS," the complaint said. 

When confronted with the evidence, Santos allegedly submitted forged invoices to the FBI. 

The news follows other fraud charges made against another San Francisco government figure, former Public Works Director Mohammed Nuru, in January. In office when the charges came down, Nuru has since resigned

Santos, whose next court appearance is scheduled for Friday, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.