San Francisco city employee accused of buying VR headsets, cameras with city money in growing corruption scandal

A third San Francisco city employee is accused of profiting off a neighborhood improvement grant program by buying virtual reality headsets, cameras and other high-end electronics with city money and then selling them on eBay.

Stanley Ellicott, a manager in the city’s Department of Human Resources, was charged this week with felony misappropriation of public funds and felony receipt of stolen property, along with aiding and abetting, the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office announced Thursday.

He is the third city employee — all Oakland residents — to face charges in a growing misconduct scandal tied to the city’s Community Challenge Grant Program. In August, a city grant program director, Lanita Henriquez, and a consultant, Rudolph Dwayne Jones, were charged with 59 counts ranging from bribery and misappropriation of public money to financial conflict of interest.

Some of those charges accuse the two of pilfering thousands of dollars from the city from July 2016 to July 2020 through checks written between the two of them. More charges claim Hernandez helped steer nearly two-dozen city and county contracts worth $1.4 million to entities connected to Jones.

Prosecutors now say Ellicott, 38, played a key role in the scheme, often by helping Henriquez and Jones funnel money out of city grant programs.

The HR manager is accused of pocketing $269,876 from Jones’ company, RDJ Enterprises, and then sending $65,650 back to Hernandez using Venmo and Paypal, according to the district attorney’s announcement.

Prosecutors say Ellicott did website, technical and graphic design work for the grants — all of which Jones and Hernandez falsely attributed to an RDJ employee, according to prosecutors. That’s despite the fact that Ellicott didn’t have permission to perform outside work.

Prosecutors also claim the trio siphoned money away from a grant aimed at helping neighborhoods prepare for earthquakes by using that money to purchase thousands of dollars of Oculus virtual reality headsets, high-end cameras, tablets and an HDTV projector.

Jones’ company first sent generic-sounding invoices, such as “Eureka Valley and Inner Sunset Supplies” and “Bayview and Excelsior Supplies” to Henriquez for approval, prosecutors said. Most of the devices were then sold on eBay by Ellicott and Henriquez, according to the prosecutor’s announcement.

“The charges announced today reflect my Office’s continuing commitment to uncover official misconduct in San Francisco’s City government,” District Attorney Brooke Jenkins said in a statement.

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