Contractor linked to waste disposal controversy sentenced to prison for bribery

The former owner of an environmental waste disposal firm that contracted with SF State was sentenced to nearly four years in prison Thursday.

Stephen Cheung, 49, pleaded guilty to more than 100 counts of bribing a former university official with a Volvo automobile and monetary payments of more than $180,000, according to the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office.

“These crimes erode the public trust and the faith the community has in government,” District Attorney George Gascón said in a press release. “If you compromise this trust, you will be held accountable.”

Cheung, former owner of Chemical Hazardous Materials Technology, was allegedly involved in a seven-year bribery scheme that cheated the University out of millions of dollars while students faced increasingly frequent tuition hikes, according to Gascón. The bribes, which reportedly took place from 2002 to 2009, were allegedly in exchange for renewal of Cheung’s contract with SF State.

Robert Shearer, the former SF State director of Environmental Health and Occupational Safety, was also charged with 59 felony counts of each for commercial bribery and accepting a bribe, five felony counts of each for making a contract in an official capacity by a financially interested person and perjury together with the aggravated white collar crime enhancement, according to the DA’s office.

After Shearer, 70, left his job as director and Cheung’s company was replaced, SF State’s yearly spending on hazardous waste removal services went from $730,000 to $176,000. Shearer was arrested without incident at his home in Fremont April 18, 2013. His case is ongoing, according to the DA.

Cheung was arrested on April 22, 2013 after crashing his Mercedes-Benz into unoccupied parked cars following a high-speed car chase in the Outer Sunset, according to Golden Gate Xpress, where he then fled on foot before he was arrested by the San Francisco Police Department.

Cheung was sentenced to three years and eight months in prison. He also admitted to an aggravated white collar crime enhancement and made an initial payment of $150,000 in restitution to SF State at the time of his guilty plea, according to the DA.

The DA’s office will present evidence to ensure SF State obtains a court order for full compensation at a restitution hearing scheduled for May 28.

“As SFSU students were seeing tuition increases each year, this high level university official and vendor were getting rich off the University’s dime,” Gascón said in a 2013 press release. “Bribery is a crime that violates the public trust and erodes the people’s confidence in government. My office is committed to prosecuting public corruption at all levels.”