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San Francisco official named in corruption case steps down

Yosef Tahbazof, a member of San Francisco’s Assessment Appeals Board, speaks at a City Hall hearing in 2014. | Source: Courtesy City of San Francisco

A San Francisco official who helped prepare a loan at the center of a corruption case against a senior building inspector resigned Monday under pressure.

Yosef Tahbazof, an attorney and real estate developer, stepped down from the Assessment Appeals Board, which resolves disputes between the assessor and taxpayers over property valuations. He quit after Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin said he would introduce legislation to remove Tahbazof following reporting by The Standard.

“The Assessment Appeals Board needs to be above and beyond reproach and relies on public trust to do its important work,” Peskin told The Standard. “And the appearance of impropriety by any of its members, particularly when related to city business, erodes public trust.”

Tahbazof, 37, had served on the Assessment Appeals Board since his appointment by the Board of Supervisors in 2013. He is an attorney with the Tahbazof Law Firm and principal at the real estate development and management firm Atlas Property Group. He is also the son of prominent developer Sia Tahbazof, 72.

The Standard reported Monday that court records show Yosef Tahbazof helped prepare the terms of a $180,000 loan from developer Freydoon Ghassemzadeh to then-city building inspector Bernie Curran in early 2017.

Curran did not disclose the loan from Ghassemzadeh until 2021, after he came under investigation by the City Attorney’s Office. Building and property records show the loan was outstanding at the time he approved a final inspection for a project owned by Ghassemzadeh.

That loan is the subject of a criminal case brought by local prosecutors against Curran, who has pleaded not guilty to perjury and conflict of interest charges.

Court records from the case show Yosef Tahbazof sent an email on March 15, 2017, asking a financial services company to draft the loan agreement that was ultimately signed between Curran and Ghassemzadeh.

Prosecutors have not announced charges against Yosef Tahbazof or Ghassemzadeh. Ghassemzadeh previously declined to comment.

In an email to The Standard, Yosef Tahbazof said he had tendered his resignation “immediately” after learning Peskin wanted him to step down. 

Sia Tahbazof and his family are featured in a client testimonial for First Republic Bank, captured in this screenshot of the website.

Disguising the Funds

Curran was convicted last month in a federal case of receiving a $260,000 loan from an unnamed developer whose projects he regularly inspected. The developer agreed to forgive $30,000 of the loan.

It appears from court and other public records that the developer, referred to in court documents only as Developer-1, may be Sia Tahbazof.

Prosecutors said Developer-1 routed the loan to Curran through several relatives in an “elaborate concealment strategy” meant to hide the source of the funds. That strategy also included Curran agreeing to “sign and record a false loan agreement and deed of trust purporting to establish the terms of a fictional loan between Curran and a relative of Developer-1.”

Ghassemzadeh is the brother-in-law of Sia Tahbazof and uncle of Yosef Tahbazof.

The loan that prosecutors described in court records matches the one Curran belatedly reported receiving from Ghassemzadeh by amending the financial disclosure paperwork he had on file with the city.

Curran admitted in his plea agreement that he “falsified the financial disclosure form to deceive investigators and conceal the fact that Developer-1 was the source of the money,” prosecutors said.

He pleaded guilty to two counts of accepting illegal gratuities.

Prosecutors have not announced charges against Sia Tahbazof. He previously declined to comment.