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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Ajamu Stewart, Clifton Sanders, Former Health Inspectors Charged in Food Safety Scandal

Posted By on Wed, Dec 14, 2011 at 3:30 PM

click to enlarge You don't really need a certificate to tell you that this meal here doesn't look safe
  • You don't really need a certificate to tell you that this meal here doesn't look safe
Two former health inspectors with the San Francisco Department of Public Health Food and Safety Program appeared in court today to answer to charges of forging food safety certificates in exchange for cash bribes.

Ajamu Stewart and Clifton Sanders were responsible for inspecting retail food businesses to ensure they are up to code. Part of their job was to make sure restaurants had employed at least one person who had a current food safety certificate. Now the two are being accused of falsifying those government documents, showing that employees from the restaurants in question -- including Burger King and Popeyes -- had passed the food safety manager exam when in fact nobody had even taken the test, prosecutors said.

"The defendants used their inspection authority to solicit bribes from local restaurants, showing complete disregard for state laws and public trust," said District Attorney George Gascón. "This case is a good example of city departments working together to ensure public corruption will not be tolerated in San Francisco."

An initial investigation by the City Attorney's Office uncovered significant irregularities in the administration of these exams. As a result, certificates have been invalidated at hundreds of restaurants across San Francisco.

Stweart was arrested on Dec. 5, and pleaded not guilty to the charges. He was scheduled for a pretrial conference this morning. Sanders was arrested on Dec. 8 and pleaded not guilty to the charges at court today. Both are scheduled to appear in court again on Jan. 4, 2012.

If convicted, Stewart could receive nine years in prison and a fine of $10,000. He would be disqualified from ever holding any government office, employment, or appointment in California.

Sander could receive up to eight years in prison and a $10,000 fine. He, too, would no longer be allowed to hold government office, employment or an appointment in California.

These accusations beg the question: Are those burgers and chicken wings really safe to eat?

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About The Author

Erin Sherbert

Erin Sherbert

Erin Sherbert was the Online News Editor for SF Weekly from 2010 to 2015. She's a Texas native and has a closet full of cowboy boots to prove it.


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