A San Francisco man accused of forging building documents related to several dozen properties throughout The City over nearly two decades will face trial for 232 felony counts, prosecutors announced Monday.
Jimmy Jen, 58, was arrested in August 2010 on suspicion of forging the signatures and stamps of two licensed engineers on hundreds of documents related to construction projects beginning in 1990.
According to prosecutors, Jen, an engineer himself who wasn't always licensed, was often hired by the owners of single-family homes to expedite The City's permitting process. Rather than hiring a licensed engineer to review their construction projects, he allegedly impersonated unwitting engineers.
The construction projects affected were mostly residential, but also included the complete redevelopment of the Alexandria Theater in the Richmond district. Jen's ex-wife, Nancy Jen, was reportedly the largest stakeholder in the theater. Other projects included the expansion of a ground-floor unit in the Mission and the replacement of a foundation in Presidio Heights, prosecutors said.
Between 1990 and 1995, Jen reportedly forged the signature and stamp of licensed civil engineer Ching-Liu Wu on 26 land surveys filed with the Assessor-Recorder's Office and the County Surveyor's Office. Between 2000 and 2007, he allegedly impersonated Wu on building plans filed with the Department of Building Inspection for 60 projects, prosecutors said. After 2007, Jen allegedly impersonated licensed civil engineer Tai-Ming Chen on projects related to 10 city addresses.
Neither Wu nor Chen knew anything about the fraud, prosecutors said.
The ruse came to light when a land surveyor noted anomalies on a 1990s land survey and attempted to contact Wu.
“Thanks to an extensive investigation, this massive fraud case was brought to light and a judge has ruled there is enough evidence to go to trial,” District Attorney George Gascón said in a statement.
Jen's former employee, Jian Min Fong, will also face trial in connection with the alleged fraud. He faces 86 felony counts, including 46 counts of forgery and 37 counts of submitting false documents to a government office.
The 2010 arrest wasn't the first time Jen was in hot water for shady practices. In 2004, The City won a $1.2 million settlement against Jen after a Supreme Court judge found he had broken laws while expanding a Visitacion Valley home he had purchased four years earlier.
The defendants will be arraigned on the charges July 30, according to prosecutors.