By Mike Aldax
S.F. Examiner Staff Writer
Apparently there is plenty of waste to dispose of in this case.
A former San Francisco State University director and the owner of a waste disposal company have been charged with 246 felony counts in connection with a contract that reportedly cost the school millions of dollars during a period of record budget cuts.
Prosecutors believe Robert Shearer, the head of SFSU’s occupational safety division from 2002 to ’09, accepted more than $180,000, a 1999 Volvo and at least 45 trips to Singapore from Stephen Cheung, the owner of Chemical and HazMat Technology. In return, Shearer allegedly ensured that the company’s contract with the school was renewed.
To pull off the scheme, Shearer reportedly persuaded the director of procurement that SFSU’s previous contract provider, North State Environmental, was overbilling the school by about $162,000 annually.
SFSU then opened up the contract to bid, but Shearer allegedly neglected to mention any bids other than Cheung’s.
The contract proved costly. During the 2004-05 school year, Cheung’s company billed the school for $546,000, with Shearer pushing through all the payments. The following year, the bill nearly doubled to $989,000. And during the last three years of the contract, prosecutors said, the totals were $635,000, $549,000 and $730,000, respectively.
Shearer left the school in 2009, the same year a whistle-blower came forward to report the alleged scheme. With Shearer gone, billing went down to $177,000, said Stephanie Ong Stillman, a spokeswoman for the District Attorney’s Office.
After a lengthy investigation, Shearer was arrested at his home in Fremont on April 18. Cheung was arrested Tuesday, but reportedly did not go easy.
Cheung allegedly led police on a high-speed chase that began at 46th Avenue and Taraval Street in the Outer Sunset district and ended a few blocks away when he crashed at 44th Avenue and Ulloa Street. After the crash, Cheung was detained following a short foot chase.
Prosecutors said they were disgusted by the case.
“As SFSU students were seeing tuition increases each year, this high-level university official and vendor were getting rich off the university’s dime,” District Attorney George Gascón said.