City Employee Put On Leave After Allegedly Threatening Nonprofit Director
Santiago "Sam" Ruiz, executive director of Mission Neighborhood Centers, confirmed that he received in February a string of three threat-laden e-mails. After reporting the incident to police, he says investigators obtained a warrant and compelled Yahoo to release the identity of the anonymous e-mailer. Ruiz said police informed him the e-mails were penned by Artina Lim -- the senior program officer of the city's Department of Children, Youth, and Their Families.
The situation was touched off earlier this year when the DCYF -- which allocates nonprofits some $80 million to run programs on behalf of the city -- pushed the Mission Neighborhood Centers to relocate one of its programs. DCYF wanted Mission Beacon -- an after-school and community hub program -- to move from Everett Middle School to Cesar Chavez Elementary. The nonprofit didn't like it, the families it served didn't like it, and several San Francisco politicians got involved. They didn't like it. Mission Neighborhood Centers, a 50-year-old community service provider, and its patron, DCYF, bumped heads.
Then Ruiz got his e-mails. The first one accused him of fostering a potentially violent atmosphere. The e-mail disturbed Ruiz enough that he filed a police report on Feb. 12. Within that report, it is revealed the e-mail queried Ruiz "What if [three DCYF employees] end up dead?" Ruiz says a second e-mail went further: It informed him that if any harm were to befall the aforementioned DCYF employees, retribution would be carried out against him, his girlfriend -- whom it identified by name -- and members of his staff. The e-mail "used the word 'death' several times," said Ruiz.
An e-mail Lim penned to Ruiz on March 22 has been obtained by SF Weekly. In it, Lim writes "I would like to meet with you to apologize for what I've done." Ruiz said he declined to meet with Lim.
Sergeant Joseph Nannery, the police investigator handling this case, was unavailable for comment. Multiple calls and e-mails to several of Lim's numbers and addresses have not been returned.
DCYF Executive Director Maria Su would only say "I can confirm there was an incident and that involves the police -- and our staff. The Department of Human Resources is helping us investigate the situation further with regards to our staff. ... As of this moment in time, the police have indicated just one staff person."
Su would not confirm that Lim was the staffer in question, but did note that the staffer named by police is "on administrative leave pending an investigation from the Department of Human Resources and the police, of course." Calls to Lim's work number reach a message spoken by a deep male voice noting that "Artina is currently not in the office."
After being contacted by police in February, Su says she called the city's Department of Human Resources and Police Chief George Gascon within half an hour. The police investigation regarding the e-mails is ongoing; records do not indicate Lim has been charged with anything, according to the department's Public Information Office. Ruiz and others at his nonprofit believe Lim was not acting alone, however. "We are all of the opinion it wasn't just Artina," he says. "All of the e-mails used the term 'we.' We're asking the San Francisco Police Department to uncover who 'we' is."
Yet what Ruiz wants most is to put this behind him.
"Our desire is to close this chapter once and for all with DCYF and renew our relationship based on mutual trust," he said. He adds that Mission Beacon won't be moving from Everett Middle School for at least a year.