Two men were arrested Tuesday on suspicion of perpetrating a “massive fraud” involving the forging of building documents for about 100 properties in the city going back 20 years, San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris said today.
Jimmy Jen, 56, of San Francisco, and his associate Jian Min Fong, 40, of Oakland, together face 243 felony counts including forgery, submitting false documents to a government office, impersonating another, identity theft and conspiracy.
According to prosecutors, Jen, a former civil engineer who is now unlicensed, forged the signatures and stamps of two licensed civil engineers on documents and submitted them to the Assessor-Recorder’s Office, the County Surveyor’s Office, and the Department of Building Inspection between 1990 and 2007.
In all, more than 500 false and forged documents were submitted, prosecutors said.
The construction projects were mostly residential but also included the redevelopment of the Alexandria Theater in the Richmond District, Harris said. The theater closed its doors in 2004.
“This is a massive fraud against the people of the city and county of San Francisco,” Harris said.
The two appeared in court this morning on the charges, according to the district attorney’s office. Arraignment was postponed until Friday.
Jen is considered an international flight risk and is being held on $50 million bail, Harris said. Fong’s bail was set at $2.295 million.
Harris said the two engineers whose identities were stolen had no connection with Jen or any of the projects.
“We don’t know why they chose these two individuals,” she said.
Harris said many of the homeowners had been referred to Jen through word of mouth.
An investigation is ongoing into whether there were any more victims, Harris said.
Property owners who have documents referencing either victim engineer–Ching-Liu Wu or Tai-Ming Chen–are asked to call the district attorney’s Special Prosecution Unit at (415) 551-9573.
Jen was separately the subject of an arson investigation by the fire department in 2009 after a home of his at 627 Felton St. in the Portola District burned and a firefighter was severely injured when the roof collapsed. Charges were never filed in the case.
Fire officials said at the time that Jen had a history of owning properties that have burned.