Was cocaine found in ex-SFPUC chief’s home? In new twist of S.F. City Hall scandal, judge orders drug testing

Was cocaine found in ex-SFPUC chief’s home? In new twist of S.F. City Hall scandal, judge orders drug testing

Former San Francisco Public Utilities Commission chief Harlan Kelly must surrender his passport, rid himself of any firearms and not use alcohol in excess while he is out of jail and awaiting trial on a federal charge of wire fraud.

Those standard conditions, ordered by Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler Tuesday after setting bond at $200,000, also came with an additional stipulation for Kelly to undergo drug testing after prosecutors said a substance that appeared to be cocaine was found in his home.

Beeler initially questioned whether she should order drug testing, given the safety risks associated with the pandemic, and said she didn’t want to impose it without cause.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Robin Harris explained what prompted the request for drug testing.

“In a search of Mr. Kelly’s home we found a substance that tested presumptive positive for cocaine,” Harris told Beeler, who ultimately agreed to order testing.

The virtual hearing Tuesday morning served as Kelly’s first court appearance after federal officials raided his home and made public a wire fraud charge against him tied to a sprawling bribery scheme in City Hall.

Kelly, who appeared in a red mask next to his attorney, Brian Getz, only spoke to answer procedural questions and did not yet enter a plea.

Kelly agreed to a $200,000 bond that will keep him out of jail during pretrial proceedings. The bond was secured by the Fresno home of Kelly’s father, Harlan Kelly Sr., who was also present on the Zoom hearing and agreed to the conditions.

When asked about the cocaine, Getz told The Chronicle there was “some residue found in the house from a party, but it had nothing to do with Harlan.”

Kelly resigned from his post last week after federal officials announced the bribery allegations against him. Prosecutors say Kelly received gifts, including a vacation to China and Hong Kong, free meals, jewelry and home repairs, in exchange for handing contractor Walter Wong unfair advantages in projects overseen by the SFPUC.

Getz told The Chronicle last week that his client intends to fight the charge and intends to take the case to trial.

Kelly faces one count of wire fraud and honest services wire fraud, a charge that carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000 or as much as twice the amount gained from the alleged bribes.

His wife, City Administrator Naomi Kelly, announced she was going on a six-week leave last week in light of the allegations. Naomi Kelly has not been charged with a crime, but allegedly came along on the trip to and seemingly misled investigators about its expenses.

Megan Cassidy is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: Twitter: @meganrcassidy

Published at Tue, 08 Dec 2020 21:40:35 +0000

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