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Former San Francisco planning commissioner Hector Chinchilla was charged Thursday with violating state and city conflict-of-interest laws by accepting $182,500 in legal fees as a consultant to three proposed development projects. The seven-count misdemeanor complaint accuses Chinchilla, a former partner at Crosby, Heafey, Roach & May, of offering his legal services to developers while sitting as chairman of the Planning Commission. District Attorney Terence Hallinan said Chinchilla is scheduled to surrender today and will be formally charged. His bail will be $3,500. “He used his office to affect the outcome of matters pending before his office and he was paid by two masters,” Hallinan said in announcing the charges. The district attorney said Chinchilla, 49, was paid $50 a meeting by the city as a planning commissioner and then took money while acting as a private consultant. If convicted on all counts, Chinchilla could serve up to three years in county jail and pay a $30,000 fine. Jeffrey DalCerro, assistant chief trial counsel for the State Bar, said any conviction would be forwarded to the Bar for investigation and potential disciplinary action. Chinchilla left Crosby, Heafey in April of 2001, and calls to his consultant firm, Millennium Group, were not returned. His attorney, George Niespolo, was flying to Miami, according to a spokeswoman for his firm, Duane Morris, and was unavailable for comment. Chinchilla has in the past denied he did anything wrong because he recused himself from the Planning Commission votes. Chinchilla is accused of working to smooth the Planning Commission approval process on three projects by signing consulting contracts with the developers. Although he never voted on the projects, only one of which was approved, he was hired to resolve the political issues required to win building permits, prosecutors said. In harsh language, Hallinan said Chinchilla is the latest in a growing number of city officials accused of wrongdoing. “I think I’ve tried to make it clear that we in the district attorney’s office are upset by what we see as a pervading corruption through many, many departments in the city and county of San Francisco,” he said. He mentioned the former S.F. school district official accused of stealing $850,000 and a fire department employee charged with taking bribes. “It is extremely disturbing to me that that kind of atmosphere seems to be prevalent in San Francisco these days,” Hallinan said. In a 15-page declaration in support of an arrest warrant, senior DA investigator John Dobson discussed how the Oakland firm of Crosby, Heafey and Chinchilla worked to win approval of a project at 888 Howard St. Crosby associate Katherine Hart told Dobson that she and Chinchilla exchanged draft documents about the project and that he would draft matters for her to submit to the Planning Commission. Hart told investigators she had no idea who was paying Chinchilla, and said he wasn’t performing services for Crosby, Heafey or at its behest. Hart declined to comment Thursday. Jack Nelson, Crosby’s chief operating officer, also declined to comment, saying “that involves a client that we did work for.” Leonard Blakesley Jr., the executive vice president of Continental Development Corp., which was the Howard Street developer, told Dobson that “Mr. Chinchilla performed anything needed on the project.” Continental paid Chinchilla $112,250, prosecutors said, to help win approval for the project. In a second proposal known as the Apollo Theater Project, developer Pius Lee and his son, Lawrence, hired Chinchilla for $20,000 worth of consulting work. Their Geneva Street plan has not won approval and remains in limbo, investigators said. Dennis Chu, a 20 percent partner with the Lees, told investigators that Chinchilla “had them come to his office and had them stand behind a podium and practice making their Planning Commission presentation . . . Chinchilla would then advise them on what he perceived they did wrong.” Sal Balistreri, attorney for Pius Lee, said the father, son and other investors were “victimized by an intellectual bandit, who put his private greed before his public duties.” Dobson said when Chinchilla’s clients asked if he were within the law, he told them that the city attorney’s office had given him “clearance.” When asked by investigators if this were true, Deputy City Attorney Loretta Giorgi said there was no written or oral permission giving Chinchilla “clearance” to act as a consultant. A third project at Hyde and Eddy streets has been withdrawn, but not before its sponsors paid Chinchilla a $50,000 fee. Herman Bauer, one of the developers, told Dobson “the project did not go far enough for Chinchilla to really do anything.”

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