(KTSF by Sean Au)
Two former Environmental Health Inspectors of San Francisco’s Department of Public Health have been arraigned for multiple felony charges for their alleged roles in a food safety bribery scheme involving local restaurants.
Every restaurant in San Francisco needs to employ at least one person who possesses a current and valid Food Safety Manager certificate. To get the certificate, the food safety manager has to pass an examination that tests the manager on issues like the right temperature to store cooked and raw foods, or the right way to sanitize food storage equipment. This certificate is valid for three years.
The Department of Public Health received information in December 2008 that two of its Environmental Health Inspectors have allegedly been asking for bribes of between $100 and $200, in exchange for providing the Food Safety Manager certificates. The department launched an investigation with the City Attorney’s Office, which uncovered up to 500 cases of alleged payments made.
The case was turned over to the District Attorney’s Office which arrested the two suspects. D.A. George Gascon states, “People who work for our government, they are held to a very high standard. If they violate the standard of trust, there would be consequences.”
According to the D.A.’s office, the two men arraigned are Ajamu Stewart and Clifton Sanders. If convicted, each faces up to nine years in prison and a restitution fine of $10,000.
The Department of Public Health adds that the Food Safety Managers affected by this scheme have been called to retake the examination.
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