Archive for the ‘Police & Crime’ Category

Contra Costa DA announces three sentenced to prison for $6.0 million in wage theft, tax fraud and insurance fraud

Friday, June 23rd, 2017

Owned restaurants including one in Brentwood

On Friday, June 16, 2017, the Honorable Charles “Ben” Burch sentenced defendants Yu Chen, Feng Gu, and Rongdi Zheng to three years and four months of state prison each and imposed a $6.1-million-dollar restitution order, including restitution for approximately $4.5 million in unpaid minimum wage and overtime, as well as approximately $1.5 million in unpaid taxes.

The investigation began in 2013 when investigators from the Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office, California Employment Development Department (“EDD”) and the California Department of Insurance (“CDI”) conducted surveillance of several restaurants in three counties.

On January 10, 2014, investigators from all three agencies, assisted by representatives from the Department of Industrial Relations (“DIR”), Bureau of Field Enforcement, and law enforcement officers from Alameda, Contra Costa, and Placer Counties served simultaneous search warrants on nine locations, including four restaurants and several private residences.  The restaurants were the Golden Dragon Buffet in Brentwood, the Golden Wok Buffet in Roseville, the Kokyo Sushi Buffet in Hayward, and the New Dragon Buffet in San Leandro.

Investigators interviewed the employees and seized business records.  Many employees reported being recruited from outside the Bay Area.  Once they arrived, the employer kept them in crowded housing and bussed them to work six days each week for twelve hour shifts per day.  Auditors determined that the four restaurants underpaid minimum wage and filed tax returns that underreported payroll tax and sales tax.

In December of 2016, the Contra Costa County Grand Jury returned an indictment of several defendants related to the investigation.  That same month, investigators from the Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office arrested Yu Chen, Rongdi Zheng, Feng Gu, Shao Rong Zhang, and Zhou Xian Chen related to the indictment.

On May 23, 2017, Defendant Shao Rong Zhang pled no contest to a misdemeanor charge of enforcing a policy on behalf of her employer that employees not report minimum wage violations, in violation of Labor Code section 1102.5.  Pursuant to the negotiated disposition, Judge Burch sentenced Ms. Zhang to one hundred and twenty days in jail and probation.

Also on May 23, 2017, Defendants Yu Chen, Rongdi Zheng, and Feng Gu pled guilty to charges of conspiracy to violate the minimum wage law, payroll tax fraud, sales tax fraud, and insurance premium fraud pursuant to a negotiated disposition that provided for the judge to choose the term of imprisonment in a specified range at the sentencing hearing.  Each of these three defendants were alleged to be joint owners of either the Brentwood or Roseville restaurants during some timeframe of the charged conspiracy.

On May 24, 2017, charges were dismissed against defendant Zhou Xian Chen.

On June 16, 2017, in Martinez, Judge Burch heard argument and then announced sentence.

Attorney Tomas Margain who represents two of the workers submitted a letter to the Court for sentencing calling the “the most egregious case of wage theft I have seen” in nineteen years of handling these types of cases.  He continued, “I was to commend the District Attorney’s Office and the law enforcement officials who worked on this case.”

Several workers from the restaurants spoke at the sentencing hearing and submitted written statements to the Court.  Worker M.T. wrote, “We were always getting yelled at and nothing we did was ever good enough for them.  They lived to instill the fear in us and they succeeded because we did not know any better and we did not know who to turn to.  This experience has damaged me emotionally.  I will never forget it.  I truly do not wish this upon anyone.  I would have family and friends ask me how my ‘experience’ in the U.S. was and I could not bring myself to tell them because I was so ashamed.  I lived in shame for the situation that I was in but, I know that I have to move forward and not look back anymore.”

Worker E.F. also submitted a letter, “I will never be the same.  At my current job there are moments where I must get a look on my face because my coworkers ask me if I am ok, If I need to go home, . . . I tell them all that I have lived through and that there is fear that this might happen to me all over again.  I want justice to be served so that this won’t happen to anyone else.  This shouldn’t happen to anyone else.”

Judge Burch cited the impact that these crimes had on real people in sentencing all three defendants to three years and four months in prison.

Deputy District Attorney Jeremy L. Seymour prosecuted the case.  The prosecution is a result of a multi-agency investigation effort led by the Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office that included case agents and representatives from four different state agencies including DIR, CDI, EDD, and the Board of Equalization.

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Antioch man found shot multiple times, Tuesday night

Wednesday, June 21st, 2017

By Acting Sergeant Michael Mortimer, Antioch Police Community Policing Bureau

On Tuesday, June 20, 2017 at 8:15 p.m. Antioch Police were dispatched to the 1000 Block of Putnam Street on the report of a shooting. Upon arrival officers found a 34-year-old Antioch man on the sidewalk, suffering from multiple gunshot wounds. The victim was transported to an area hospital where he is being treated and is listed in critical condition.

This investigation is in its early stages and no further information will be released at this time.

Any further information or additional press releases will be provided by the Investigations Bureau at (925) 779-6939. You may also text a tip to 274637 (CRIMES) using key word ANTIOCH.

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Police identify man shot, killed by officer Friday night, provide additional details

Tuesday, June 20th, 2017

Nathan Banks

By Lieutenant D. Bittner #3252, Antioch Police Investigations Division

The following is additional information that has been confirmed since the last press release.

At approximately 11:30 pm on Friday, June 16, 2017, an Antioch Police Department patrol officer made contact with a female subject and a male subject who were sitting inside a vehicle that was parked in the 2300 block of Manzanita Way. The male subject was identified as 37-year-old Nathan Banks of Antioch.

During the contact, the patrol officer noticed that Banks was in possession of a handgun. The officer ordered Banks to remain in the vehicle. However, Banks exited the vehicle and fled on foot carrying the handgun in his hand. The officer pursued Banks on foot and caught him near the porch of a nearby residence. During a confrontation with Banks the officer was forced to fire his duty weapon in defense of his own life. Banks was struck three times by the officer’s gunfire and was pronounced dead at the scene. Banks was found to be in possession of an illegally possessed firearm.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Antioch Police Department non-emergency line at (925)778-2441. You may also text-a-tip to 274637 (CRIMES) using the key word ANTIOCH.

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Antioch man killed in officer involved shooting, Friday night

Saturday, June 17th, 2017

By Lieutenant D. Bittner #3252, Antioch Police Investigations Division

The Antioch Police Department and the Contra Costa County Office of the District Attorney are currently investigating an Officer Involved Shooting involving an Antioch Police Department Officer. The shooting occurred on Friday, June 16, 20176 at approximately 11:30 pm near the 2300 block of Manzanita Way. A 37-year-old male Antioch resident was shot and killed during the incident. The involved Antioch Police Officer was not injured. The investigation is in its early stages and no further information will be released, at this time.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Antioch Police Department non-emergency line at (925)778-2441. You may also text-a-tip to 274637 (CRIMES) using the key word ANTIOCH.

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Former Antioch Police Officer and Wife, a Pittsburg Teacher Plead Guilty in Tax Fraud Scheme

Thursday, June 15th, 2017

Ana and Gary Bostick. Photo by www.nicolebartonphotography.com

Pittsburg residents face up to 20 year prison sentences; eight others including three more Contra Costa County residents also indicted in conspiracy

OAKLAND – The U.S. Justice Department’s Northern District of California announced, today, Thursday, June 15, 2017 that former Antioch police officer Gary Bostick and his wife, Ana Bostick, pleaded guilty to their respective roles in a scheme to illegally obtain money from the United States announced United States Attorney Brian J. Stretch and Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation, Special Agent in Charge Michael T. Batdorf.

Also indicted in the conspiracy were nine others, including three other residents of Contra Costa County. The indictment, unsealed on Dec. 9, 2015, charges the following additional defendants:

  • Hugh Robinson, of Richmond
  • Devonnie Davison, of San Pablo
  • Brandon Robinson, of El Cerrito
  • Ronald Blake, of Fort Worth, TX
  • Kyadrian Dennis, of Fort Worth, TX
  • William Odom, of Berkeley
  • Jamia Lewis, of Fairfield
  • Janel McDonald, of Los Angeles
  • Everardo Laurian, of Daly City

According to the indictment, from at least August 21, 2013, through April 27, 2015, the defendants conspired with one another to commit offenses against the United States, including theft of government money.  The scheme involved obtaining the names of deceased individuals, filing false tax returns in the names of the individuals, obtaining false identifications, and illegally cashing U.S. Treasury checks.

(Related press release: https://www.justice.gov/usao-ndca/pr/eleven-defendants-named-seventy-one-count-indictment-charging-conspiracy-commit-theft)

Gary Bostick, 39, and Ana Bostick, 37, both of Pittsburg, pleaded guilty to their respective roles the conspiracy.  The Honorable Jeffery S. White, United States District Judge, accepted Ana Bostick’s guilty plea on Tuesday, June 13, 2017, and accepted Gary Bostick’s guilty plea this morning. 6/16/17 UPDATE: Gary Bostick worked for the Antioch Police Department from July 30, 2007 to April 29, 2015 according to Nickie Mastay, Director of Human Resources for the City of Antioch. Ana Bostick is listed as a teacher at Black Diamond High School in the Pittsburg Unified School District. But there is no photo or information about her on the school’s webpage. On Friday morning, June 16, 2017, Nicole Mora, District Communications Public Relations Specialist said she had “learned about this, this morning”, was “looking into it” and waiting to speak with the principal and others before commenting.

Then, in a later email, Mora released the following statement from the district: “Ana Bostick is employed by Pittsburg Unified School District as a teacher. Her current employment status for the 2017/2018 school year is a personnel matter and we have no other details to release at this time.”

According to the Bosticks’ plea agreements, between January and April of 2015, the conspiracy involved filing false federal income tax returns in order to obtain fraudulent federal income tax refunds and cashing stolen U.S. Treasury checks at Walmart stores throughout the United States.  Specifically, Gary Bostick admitted that in January 2015, he assisted in filing false tax returns with the IRS in the names of deceased individuals.  The defendants obtained names, dates of birth, and Social Security numbers from websites such as www.rootsweb.ancestry.com and www.ssnvalidator.com.  In order to receive payment, the conspirators directed the IRS to mail the fraudulently obtained U.S. Treasury checks to addresses he and his co-conspirators could access.  The conspirators cashed the U.S. Treasury checks at various Walmart stores.

Ana Bostick admitted that she aided her co-conspirators by, among other things, cashing two U.S. Treasury checks.  Ana Bostick admitted she requested another co-conspirator to send her photos of the two U.S. Treasury checks so that she could use the information on the checks to obtain fake identification that matched the names.  After obtaining the fake identifications, Ana Bostick cashed the two checks and kept the corresponding funds.

Gary Bostick’s participation in the scheme included traveling with two co-conspirators to Los Angeles to obtain stolen U.S. Treasury checks and then to Walmart stores in various areas, including Kentucky, to cash the checks.  The former police officer acknowledged that he supervised other individuals in the scheme, including managers and runners, who were responsible for cashing the fraudulent or stolen U.S. Treasury checks.  In sum, the conspiracy involved $720,530.40 in stolen U.S. Treasury checks.

On November 15, 2015, a federal grand jury indicted Gary Bostick, Ana Bostick, and their co-conspirators.  For her part in the scheme, Ana Bostick was charged with conspiracy to commit theft of public money, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371; two counts of theft of public money, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 641; and two counts of aggravated identity theft, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1028A.  She pleaded guilty to all charges.  For his part in the scheme, Gary Bostick was charged with conspiracy to commit theft of public money, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371; four counts of wire fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1343; and four counts of aggravated identity theft, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1028A.  He pleaded guilty to the conspiracy charge and to the wire fraud charges.  Pursuant to the plea agreement, the identity theft charges were dismissed.

Judge White scheduled Gary Bostick’s sentencing for September 19, 2017, and Ana Bostick’s sentencing for November 14, 2017.  The maximum sentence for conspiracy to commit theft of public money is five years in prison and a fine of $250,000.  The maximum sentence for theft of public money is ten years in prison and a fine of $250,000.  The maximum sentence for wire fraud is 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.  The maximum sentence for aggravated identity theft is a mandatory minimum of two years in prison and a fine of $250,000.  However, any sentence will be imposed by the court only after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Thomas Newman and Jose A. Olivera and Trial Attorney Gregory Bernstein are prosecuting this case with assistance from Jonathan Deville of the Tax Division.  The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation.

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Appeals Court rules in favor of City in 2012 Antioch officer involved shooting case

Wednesday, June 14th, 2017

By Acting Captain Tony Morefield, Antioch Police Department

On June 28, 2012, Denny Gonzales lost his life in the City of Antioch in a confrontation with Antioch Police Department (APD) officers. On that date, Gonzales, a local barber, made numerous statements to the police that clearly indicated he was homicidal, including comments that he was going to kill a police officer and other threats. Gonzales, who was later found to have been emotionally distraught and significantly intoxicated, was shot and killed when he challenged officers with a firearm in front of his Antioch home.

(See related articles: Distraught Antioch Man Shot and Killed by Police, and Judge dismisses case against Antioch Police in shooting death of Antioch man in 2012)

In 2013, the wife of Gonzales and his young daughter (Plaintiffs) filed a lawsuit against the City of Antioch for claimed civil rights violations, negligence and battery. In October of 2015, Judge Westmore of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, ruled in favor of the City of Antioch on all claims, dismissing this lawsuit. Judge Westmore found that “a reasonable officer at the scene would have reasonably believed that Mr. Gonzales posed a threat of serious physical harm to him or his fellow officers, justifying the use of deadly force.” Judge Westmore went on to state that “the undisputed evidence shows that the officers acted reasonably under the totality of the circumstances, and the City, therefore, faces no liability for the officers’ conduct.”

Plaintiffs appealed this decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, challenging the ruling by Judge Westmore. The appeal was argued on April 20, 2017, by outside counsel for the City, Noah G. Blechman, Esq., from the McNamara Law Firm in Walnut Creek. On June 7, 2017, the Ninth Circuit unanimously ruled that Judge Westmore did not err in dismissing the lawsuit in favor of the City.

See Memorandum, here.

The Ninth Circuit found that “viewing the facts in the light most favorable to appellants (Plaintiffs), no reasonable jury could conclude that the officers’ use of deadly force was objectively unreasonable.” Pg. 2. The Ninth Circuit found that it was undisputed that the “responding officers were confronted with a suspect who had repeatedly threatened to kill a police officer and raised his gun in the direction of officers.” Pg. 3. In addition, the Ninth Circuit found that Plaintiffs did not show sufficient evidence of any negligence on the part of any City employees with regard to their actions or tactics leading up to the shooting.

Per Mr. Blechman, “The Ninth Circuit extensively analyzed this incident from start to finish on this appeal and came to the same rightful conclusion as Judge Westmore, that these officers acted lawfully, appropriately and reasonably in this difficult situation to which they were thrust. While it is clearly unfortunate when any citizen escalates a situation that necessitates the use of deadly force by officers, these involved officers of the City had no choice but to act in self-preservation and to protect fellow officers and the public when Mr. Gonzales came out onto his driveway with the firearm and raised the firearm. The extensive training of the involved officers and the well supervised tactical decisions on that date protected all other citizens as well as possible.”

The City of Antioch continues to extend their deepest sympathies to the family and friends of Denny Gonzales who have suffered from this unfortunate incident. The City of Antioch also wants to praise the actions of those involved officers and supervisors for their efforts which no doubt likely saved the lives the others and maintained public safety on June 28, 2012.

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Former Antioch man arrested for 2013 molestation of neighbor girl

Monday, June 12th, 2017

Arrested: Christopher Liff Charges: PC 288(a), PC 288.2(a), PC 288.3(a), PC 288.4

By Sergeant John Fortner #3264, Antioch Police Investigations Division

On April 30, 2017, a female juvenile victim came forward to report that she was molested by a male adult neighbor in 2013. The suspect in this crime was no longer living near the victim.

During the investigation, it was learned that the neighbor was a trusted family friend and he was identified as 40-year-old Christopher Liff. The victim was 10-years-old at the time of the crime, and the suspect was 37-years-old.

Through investigative techniques, detectives were able to gather evidence revealing that a molestation crime did in fact occur. In an undercover capacity, Antioch detectives maintained contact with Liff under the guise of the juvenile victim. Liff’s communications inferred his willingness to commit further unlawful acts.

The investigation culminated on Saturday, June 10, 2017, at approximately 12:30 PM, when Liff was arrested by several undercover detectives. Liff had agreed to meet the victim (who was not present) at a designated location for the purposes of committing lewd and lascivious acts. Liff was intercepted by detectives and placed under arrest without incident.

Liff was charged with several felony crimes and he was booked into the Martinez Detention Facility with a bail of $165,000.00. This case is currently being filed at the District Attorney’s Office.

Anyone with information is asked to call Detective Brian Rose at (925)779-6930. You may also text-a-tip to 274637 (CRIMES) using the key word ANTIOCH.

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Teenage boy dies from accidental BB gunshot wound to the chest, in Antioch Thursday morning

Thursday, June 8th, 2017

By Sergeant John Fortner #3264, Antioch Police Investigations Division

On Thursday, June 8, 2017, at approximately 9:55 AM, Antioch police officers responded to the 4300 block of Palomar Drive for a subject who was accidentally shot with a BB gun. Once at the scene, officers located a15-year-old male victim, who was on the ground with what appeared to be a small wound to his chest. The victim was unresponsive and first-aid/life saving measures were started. The victim was transported to a local area hospital where he ultimately succumbed to his injury.

During the investigation, it was learned that the juvenile victim was shot with a pellet rifle once in the chest, by a juvenile, male friend, also 15-years-old. At this time, based on several witness statements and evidence located at the scene, the incident appears to be a tragic accident. All of the parties at the scene are cooperating with the investigation which is ongoing.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Antioch Police Department non-emergency line at (925) 778-2441. You may also text-a-tip to 274637 (CRIMES) using the key word ANTIOCH.

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