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)

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.


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