SF public health employees allegedly steered $1.2M contract to company of spouse

Two former employees with the Department of Public Health are facing accusations of corruption for allegedly steering a $1.2 million contract to a cybersecurity company in violation of conflict-of-interest laws.

Heather Zalatimo, a former technology systems engineer with the department, is accused of arranging business in 2016 between DPH and Fidelis Cybersecurity, the company where her then-husband worked.

City Attorney Dennis Herrera filed a lawsuit Tuesday in San Francisco Superior Court against Zalatimo, her then-husband Mark Zalatimo and her then-supervisor Jeff Jorgenson, former information technology chief operating officer for DPH.

Jorgenson is accused of signing off on the contract despite knowing that his employee had a spouse who worked at Fidelis as regional sales manager for Northern California.

Mark Zalatimo allegedly communicated with his then-wife about Fidelis products and directed other employees to do the same.

“The facts here are clear,” Herrera said in a statement. “You simply cannot steer a public contract to a company when you stand to benefit financially from that. You’re lining your own pocket with taxpayer money. We will not tolerate it.”

The news comes after Barbara Garcia, the former director of the department, resigned in August amid a conflict-of-interest investigation into a contract DPH paid to the institute where her wife worked.

Reached by phone Tuesday afternoon, Mark Zalatimo declined to comment.

“I don’t have any knowledge of any of this,” he said.

Attempts to reach Heather Zalatimo and Jorgenson were not immediately successful.

A spokesperson for DPH referred the San Francisco Examiner to the City Attorney’s Office, which filed the lawsuit, for comment.

Fidelis did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Max Szabo, a spokesperson for the District Attorney’s Office, said he could not confirm or deny the existence of a criminal investigation into the alleged scheme.

This is a developing story. Check back later for updates.

mbarba@sfexaminer.com

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