Nick Bovis pleads guilty to fraud charges in SF public corruption scandal

Restaurateur agrees to cooperate with investigators in ongoing probe

Nick Bovis, owner of Lefty O’Doul’s Ballpark Buffet and Cafe, has agreed to cooperate with investigators in an FBI public corruption probe. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Nick Bovis, owner of Lefty O’Doul’s Ballpark Buffet and Cafe, has agreed to cooperate with investigators in an FBI public corruption probe. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

The restaurateur who was caught up in an FBI public corruption investigation alongside one of San Francisco’s top city officials formally entered a guilty plea Thursday to fraud charges.

Nick Bovis, owner of the shuttered Union Square sports bar Lefty O’Doul’s, pleaded guilty to two felony counts of honest services wire fraud and wire fraud during an afternoon court hearing held over video conference due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bovis, 56, and Mohammed Nuru, the former director of San Francisco Public Works, were initially accused in January of attempting to bribe an airport commissioner in an alleged scheme to open up a restaurant at San Francisco International Airport.

The scandal, which federal authorities revealed in January, rocked City Hall and prompted numerous calls for increased accountability and the curtailing of the pay-to-play culture in local politics.

Bovis pleaded guilty under an agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s Office that he cooperate with the ongoing investigation.

While the details of the crimes he is admitting to were filed under seal, the U.S. Attorney’s Office alleged in a court filing last week that Bovis committed honest services wire fraud from 2015 to January 2020.

He was alleged to have engaged in a scheme to defraud the public through “bribery and kickbacks” and on March 22, 2018, used a telephone for the “purpose of executing the aforementioned scheme.”

From April 2018 through January 2020, Bovis is also said to have engaged in a scheme to “obtain money and property by means of materially false and fraudulent pretenses.”

He used email on June 29, 2018 “for the purpose of executing the scheme,” according to court records.

Bovis appeared before U.S. District Judge William H. Orrick alongside his attorneys Michael Stepanian and Gil Eisenberg.

“Guilty, your honor,” Bovis told Orrick, sitting on a sofa wearing a black and white Adidas tracksuit jacket.

Bovis faces up to 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000 for each of the two counts.


Just Posted

Cabernet sauvignon grapes sat in a container after being crushed at Smith-Madrone Winery in St. Helena. (Courtesy Smith-Madrone Winery)
San Francisco’s ‘Champagne problems’ — Wine industry suffers supply chain woes

‘Everywhere you turn, things that were easy are no longer easy’

Glasses behind the bar at LUNA in the Mission District on Friday, Oct. 15, 2021. Glassware is just one of the many things restaurants have had trouble keeping in stock as supply chain problems ripple outward. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
SF restaurants face product shortages and skyrocketing costs

‘The supply chain crisis has impacted us in almost every way imaginable’

A Giants fans hangs his head in disbelief after the Dodgers won the NLDS in a controversial finish to a tight Game 5. (Chris Victorio/Special to The Examiner)
Giants dream season ends at the hands of the Dodgers, 2-1

A masterful game comes down to the bottom of the ninth, and San Francisco came up short

<strong>Workers with Urban Alchemy and the Downtown Streets Team clean at Seventh and Market streets on Oct. 12. <ins>(Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)</ins> </strong>
Why is it so hard to keep San Francisco’s streets clean?

Some blame bureaucracy, others say it’s the residents’ fault

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi — seen in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday — touted Congressional Democrats’ infrastructure bill in San Francisco on Thursday. (Stefani Reynolds/The New York Times)
Pelosi touts infrastructure bill as it nears finish line

Climate change, social safety net among major priorities of Democrats’ 10-year funding measure

Most Read