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San Francisco Developer Slapped on the Wrist for Bribing Authorities for Permits and Checks

San Francisco Developer Slapped on the Wrist for Bribing Authorities for Permits and Checks

San Francisco, CA: A developer from San Francisco acknowledged bribing city officials in a long-running scam to speed up building permits and pass inspections, but a federal judge did not impose any jail time on him.

The 73-year-old Sia Tahbazof was fined $75,000 and ordered to serve three years of probation for his offenses. On Friday, the developer made an appearance in court.

A maximum of fifteen years in jail and two hundred fifty thousand dollars in fines were on the table for Tahbazof. After entering a guilty plea, prosecutors suggested the short sentence he received.

In Friday morning’s court statements, Tahbazof conveyed regret and remorse. During the trial, Assistant U.S. Attorney David Ward emphasized the gravity of the crime. The prosecution argues that Tahbazof’s assistance in previous cases justifies the reduced sentence.

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The developer assisted the government in bringing charges against multiple building inspection officers before he was even on the government’s radar, as Ward admitted. Edward Swanson, his defense attorney, praised his client for the good he has done and for cooperating with the authorities before sentencing. Tahbazof, who is politically connected and heads the design firms SIA Consulting and SST Investments, has completed numerous construction projects, some of which have been constructed for low-income residents.

Swanson informed the judge that all of these projects were constructed properly and with a focus on safety. Bahman Ghassemzadeh, who was both an employee and a co-conspirator alongside Tahbazof, was fined $25,100 and sentenced to three years of probation for his cooperation with the authorities.

“I am aware that my actions have brought shame upon myself, and I deeply regret them,” he told the court. In relation to the purported bribery plan, Tahbazof was initially charged with one count of conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud on November 9th according to SF Standard.

Tahbazof, Ghassemzadeh, and an additional conspirator paid bribes to three individuals working for the Department of Building Inspection. As part of a plea deal, third defendant Reza Khoshnevisan admitted guilt on February 9 to one count of conspiracy to conduct honest service fraud. His sentencing is still pending.

Following Curran’s incarceration, the story gained momentum as charges were brought against Cyril Yu and Rudy Pada, two individuals with whom he had collaborated—former plan checkers. Both men have accepted their roles in the bribery conspiracy that involved Tahbazof, Ghassemzadeh, and Khoshnevisan; they have subsequently pleaded guilty in separate proceedings.

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Tahbazof and Ghassemzadeh acknowledged in their plea deal that they conspired to bribe Pada and Yu with monetary payments, food, and alcohol in return for construction documents. While Curran was inspecting their work, Tahbazof and Ghassemzadeh confessed to paying him $1,500 each time. Tahbazof extended a $30,000 loan to Curran.

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