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San Francisco Building Inspection Chief Placed On Leave In Widening City Hall Corruption Probe

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- The Director of San Francisco's Department of Building Inspection, Tom Hui, has been placed on leave amid a widening corruption scandal that began with the arrest of the city's Public Works Director.

Mayor London Breed on Tuesday said she placed Hui on leave and asked the Building Inspection Commission to remove him from his position. Hui is accused of offering preferential treatment to permit expediter Walter Wong and billionaire developer Zhang Li in regards to a luxury condo project on 555 Fulton St.

A report from City Attorney Dennis Herrera said Hui accepted gifts of dinners from both Wong and Li, arranged for the purpose of discussing the project, discussed the project and other official DBI business with Wong using his private email, and sought to use his position to influence city employment decisions related to his son and his son's girlfriend.

"The City Attorney's report shows a number of legal and ethical violations committed by the Director of DBI since 2011 that compromise the public's trust in City government and are completely unacceptable by any civil servant," said Breed in a prepared statement. "Restoring public trust is our priority, and we will work with the City Attorney, and DBI to ensure that new leadership implements the changes that are clearly needed in order to serve the residents, businesses, and property owners who rely on DBI every day."

The allegations against Hui are the latest chapter in the ongoing corruption investigation of city government that started with the arrest of former Public Works director Mohammed Nuru and Lefty O'Doul's restaurant owner Nick Bovis by the FBI in January. Among the series of alleged corruption schemes involving the pair, was a plan to bribe a San Francisco airport commissioner for prime restaurant space at San Francisco International Airport.

In February, Herrera announced a number of additional subpoenas against individuals and businesses associated with the luxury condo project, including Wong and Li, the developer of the project.

A separate series of subpoenas, earlier in February, targeted organizations including PG&E; construction firms Webcor, Pankow and Clark; and the recycling firm Recology. Three nonprofits were also subpoenaed: Lefty O'Doul's Foundation for Kids, the San Francisco Parks Alliance and the San Francisco Clean City Coalition.

The corruption probe is being jointly conducted by the city attorney and city controller's offices. Several San Francisco supervisors have called for an independent investigation into the corruption allegations.

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