monopoly_money.jpgA San Francisco hardware store employee pleaded guilty to two felony charges Friday in connection with a procurement scam to defraud the city’s Public Utilities Commission, according to prosecutors.

Elizabeth Bradford, an employee of Cole Hardware, pleaded guilty in San Francisco Superior Court to one count of grand theft and one count of altering or forging a request for payment, according to the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office.

In return for the plea, Bradford will receive a suspended sentenced. She will be placed on three years of formal probation, will serve 90 days of county jail through the Sheriff’s Work Alternative Program, she will perform 400 hours of community service and she will pay $51,544.72 in restitution to the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission.

Bradford is one of 10 parties charged in the case. Her employer, Cole Hardware, pleaded guilty in February to felony charges of grand theft and forged requests for payment inteded to defraud the city’s vendor procurement system between April 2003 and October 2007, prosecutors said. In exchange for its guilty plea, the company will pay $51,544 to the SFPUC, as well as various fines and fees.

Cole Hardware, which has four locations in San Francisco, was one of two vendors working with Donnie Alan Thomas, a former SFPUC supervisor who pleaded guilty last September to four felony counts for embezzling $319,000 from the city, according to the district attorney’s office.

Thomas supervised an SFPUC Hetch/Hetchy high-voltage power crew based on Treasure Island that worked on private electrical contracts through his company Tri-Delta Electric Inc. while on SFPUC time, and used city money to buy goods from Cole Hardware and the other vendor, Centennial Distributors Inc., for personal use, prosecutors said.

According to the district attorney’s office, employees at the two vendors knowingly submitted invoices to the SFPUC with false descriptions of items purchased, allowing Thomas to conceal that he was buying items for personal benefit, including cellphones, stereos and sunglasses.

Six other co-defendants in the case have also pleaded guilty to various charges–Thomas, Jean Quiroz, Centennial Distributors Inc., John Rauch, Robert Mazariegos and Vincent Padilla.

Two other co-defendants–Tri-Delta Electric and Miles Bonner, an SFPUC employee who worked in Thomas’ crew–have pleaded not guilty and are awaiting their preliminary hearing, prosecutors said.

Sara Gaiser/Dan McMenamin, Bay City News

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