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San Francisco to investigate official named in corruption case

Yosef Tahbazof resigned from the Assessment Appeals Board this week. | Source: Courtesy City of San Francisco

San Francisco has begun to review the past decisions made by a former official who resigned this week in response to revelations about his role in a criminal corruption case against a disgraced building inspector.

Yosef Tahbazof resigned from his nearly decadelong post as an Assessment Appeals Board member Monday after Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin threatened to remove him in response to reporting by The Standard.

Now Tahbazof’s record is under review by the office of Assessor-Recorder Joaquín Torres as well as the City Attorney’s Office and the Clerk of the Board of Supervisors, according to a statement from Torres’ office.

“To ensure the integrity of our processes and to maintain the public’s trust in our work, we’ve begun working with the relevant city departments to support review of decisions made by the board member in question,” his office said.

A spokesperson for the office declined to provide further details about what the review would entail.

Tahbazof, 37, had served as a member of the Assessment Appeals Board, which resolves disputes between the assessor and taxpayers over property valuations, since his initial appointment by the Board of Supervisors in 2013. His family owns, develops and manages properties around San Francisco through various companies.

Tahbazof did not respond to a request for comment by publication time. In his resignation email to staff of the Assessment Appeals Board on Monday evening, Tahbazof said, “I take pride in our collective work during my tenure, and wish you and the AAB all the best in your continued endeavors.”

A representative for the Clerk of the Board of Supervisors confirmed the office will “review Mr. Tahbazof’s entire voting history as part of our own internal investigation.”

“To the best of our knowledge at this time, appeals filed by former Member Yosef Tahbazof, his family, or those represented by his law firm are decided by a different county assessment appeals board,” said Wilson Ng, a deputy director for the office.

The news comes after The Standard reported Monday that Tahbazof helped prepare a $180,000 loan at the center of the corruption case against Bernie Curran, a former senior building inspector for the city, court records show.

Curran allegedly failed to disclose the loan and completed a final inspection on a project owned by the person who reportedly gave him the loan, developer Freydoon Ghassemzadeh, within a year of receiving it.

Court records show Tahbazof, an attorney specializing in real estate, asked a financial services company to draft the loan between Ghassemzadeh, who is his uncle, and Curran.

Curran has pleaded not guilty to perjury and conflict of interest charges filed by local prosecutors over the loan and other payments from property owners. He is due in court later this month.

The loan also played a role in a separate federal case brought against Curran for receiving $30,000 in debt forgiveness from a different developer whose properties he regularly inspected. It appears from court and other filings that the developer, whose name has not been released by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, may be Sia Tahbazof, the father of Yosef Tahbazof.

Prosecutors said the developer, referred to by the moniker Developer-1, gave Curran a $260,000 loan through an elaborate scheme meant to conceal the source of the money. That scheme included Curran falsely certifying that the money that he had received from Developer-1 was instead a loan from a relative of the developer, prosecutors said.

The loan described in federal court records appears to be the one Curran belatedly told the city he received from Ghassemzadeh, who is the brother-in-law of Sia Tahbazof.

It’s unclear if Yosef Tahbazof knew about the alleged scheme to conceal the source of the funds. Neither local nor federal prosecutors have announced charges against Yosef Tahbazof, Sia Tahbazof or Ghassemzadeh.

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