Archive for the ‘District Attorney’ Category

Antioch man charged with robbery and carjacking victims while posing as female on multiple apps

Wednesday, July 3rd, 2019

By Scott Alonso, Public Information Officer, Contra Costa District Attorney

Earlier this week, the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office charged Hakeem Doeparker of Antioch with multiple felonies including a series of carjackings, attempted extortion, second degree robbery and criminal threats. The criminal complaint filed against Doeparker also alleges multiple enhancements for the defendant’s use of a firearm during the commission of these alleged crimes. Doeparker pleaded not guilty on July 2 to the charges our Office filed against him. He remains in custody and his bail is $787,000.

Doeparker allegedly used female profiles on apps such as Skout and MeetMe! to arrange meetings with unsuspecting male victims. After instructing victims to go to a particular address on Tehachapi Court in Antioch, Doeparker would approach them from behind, point a gun (often with a green laser) at the victim, and threaten to shoot or kill them if they did not hand over either money or their car keys.

The current charges relate to four known victims, with those offenses occurring throughout the month of June 2019. All victims were able to get away unharmed, though the defendant did succeed in taking money and two cars. The cars were later recovered by Antioch police officers near the defendant’s residence.

Doeparker attended Skyline High School in Oakland where he played football and was on the track team, according to his Facebook profile and Athletic.net.

The District Attorney’s office is actively working with Antioch Police Department on the case. The investigation is ongoing, and police believe there may be several additional victims in the Bay Area. Victims and anyone else with information are encouraged to contact Antioch Police Department Detective Adrian Gonzalez at 925-779-6923.

The public is also urged to exercise caution when arranging meetings with unknown persons through various phone apps, as this is increasingly becoming a strategy used to set up unsuspecting victims.

Case information: People v. Hakeem Zimikael Doeparker, Docket Number 04-197157-1

Allen Payton contributed to this report.

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Contra Costa DA receives $1 million grant to initiate its first ever pre-filing youth diversion program

Saturday, June 29th, 2019

By Scott Alonso, Public Information Officer, Contra Costa County District Attorney

Earlier this month, the Board of State and Community Corrections awarded the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office $1 million to establish a county-wide juvenile diversion pre-filing program. This diversion program will be the first county-wide program for Contra Costa County and comes on the announcement earlier this spring that our Office was starting a pilot program in Richmond for the fall of 2019. The BSCC grant will enable the pilot program in Richmond to be expanded and eventually taken county-wide.

The District Attorney’s Office joins the Contra Costa County Department of Probation, the RYSE Youth center, and Impact Justice to initiate a restorative justice program that will redirect youth from the juvenile and criminal justice system over a period of four years. The program will work with young people who have committed crimes and bring them together with those they have impacted in the community in order to atone for damages made and rebuild relationships.

“I am proud to have this program for the first-time ever in our county’s history. Our Office has a crucial role to play in reducing the pipeline into the juvenile justice system while at the same time reducing disparities in the entire criminal justice system. We have to invest in our youth to ensure they have other opportunities in their lives,” said District Attorney Diana Becton.

With the help of RYSE, the program hopes to lower recidivism rates, increase victim satisfaction, improve the youths’ relationships with their families, and lower incarceration and probation costs. Youth will learn about accountability and healing, as well as, how to establish trusting relationships with adults and authority figures. During the restorative justice process, RYSE will provide the victim and the youth offender with wrap-around services along with a facilitator for each person involved in the case.

By providing troubled youths with more resources and opportunities, Contra Costa hopes to divert up to 230 youths away from the juvenile justice system. A similar program in the Bay Area proved to be successful. Alameda County’s restorative justice program was remarkably successful as recidivism rates decreased; youths who participated in the program were 44 percent less likely to recidivate compared to similarly situated probation youth. The program carries a one-time cost of $4,500 per case while probation costs $23,000 per year and incarceration costs nearly $500,000 annually.

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Operation Broken Heart results in child exploitation arrests in county, two in Antioch

Monday, June 24th, 2019

By Scott Alonso, Public Information Officer, Contra Costa County District Attorney

Investigators with the Contra Costa County Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force recently participated in Operation Broken Heart, a nationwide effort to investigate technology facilitated crimes against children, including those who receive and distribute child pornography. Throughout April and May, the team conducted investigations of subjects who distributed child pornography over the internet and focused on individuals traveling to Contra Costa County to meet minors to engage in sexual activity.

In addition to the proactive investigations the ICAC team participated in, a significant school outreach program was also undertaken to teach parents and student about the risks associated with smartphones and social media. During the last year, investigators and prosecutors delivered presentations at multiple schools and community organizations, reaching thousands of parents, students and educators.

Some notable arrests and investigations conducted during Operation Broken Heart include:

-On April 11, 2019, Investigators arrested Gerald Jue of Danville, California. During the investigation, investigators learned Jue was accessing the internet and searching for child pornography. Jue is a third and fourth grade teacher in the Fremont School District. When a search warrant was served at Jue’s residence, a computer was seized that contained evidence of Jue’s internet searches as well as web pages containing child pornography. Jue was indicted by a federal Grand Jury in Oakland, Ca on June 6, 2019 and arrested on June 7, 2019. He was subsequently released on bond and is awaiting trial. This case was investigated by the ICAC Task Force and the United States Secret Service.

-On May 2, 2019, investigators arrested Sonny Mitchell, a registered sex offender from Antioch, California. During the course of the two-month investigation, it was discovered that Mitchell was distributing child pornography via the Facebook Messenger platform. When a search warrant was executed at Mitchell’s residence, investigators seized a device that contained additional images of child pornography. Mitchell was indicted by a federal Grand Jury in Oakland, California on May 9, 2019 and remains in custody. This case was investigated by the ICAC Task Force and the United States Secret Service.

-On May 3, 2019, investigators arrested William Cashell of Walnut Creek, California. In April 2019, Yahoo sent tips to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children when child pornography was found in Cashell’s e-mail account. During a warrant at Cashell’s apartment, investigators located an iPhone which was later determined to contain images of child pornography. Cashell’s is charged with one count of possession of child pornography by the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office and a warrant has been issued for his arrest. This case was investigated by the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office and the ICAC Task Force.

-On May 16, 2019, investigators executed a search warrant in the 2400 block of L Street in Antioch related to a child pornography possession investigation. ICAC Investigators found evidence the suspect, Henry Cordon, a 34-year-old resident of Antioch, California and formally of Orange Park, Florida, kept images of child pornography stored in his various e-mail accounts. Additionally, during the search warrant Cordon confessed to sexually assaulting a child under the age of ten in 2009 while living in Orange Park, Florida. Cordon produced at least one image of the sexual assault of that child. Cordon was indicted by a federal Grand Jury in Oakland, California on May 30, 2019 for Receipt and Possession of Child Pornography. Cordon remains in custody and is currently under investigation in both California and Florida for other offenses related to crimes against children. This case was investigated by the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office, the ICAC Task Force and Homeland Security Investigations.

The Silicon Valley Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force is managed by the San Jose Police Department. In Contra Costa County, detectives and investigators from the Walnut Creek, Concord and Moraga Police Departments, the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office, Contra Costa County Probation Department and Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office participate in the task force along with Special Agents from the United States Department of Homeland Security and the United States Secret Service.

Parents are encouraged to discuss online safety with their children and can visit the website www.kidsmartz.org for further information. If you believe your school or community organization would benefit from a smartphone and social media awareness presentation, please contact Senior Inspector Darryl Holcombe at dholcombe@contracostada.org.

 

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Contra Costa DA files Grand Jury Accusation against County Assessor Kramer for “willful or corrupt misconduct”

Wednesday, June 5th, 2019

Gus Kramer from the County Assessor’s webpage.

Kramer welcomes opportunity to face his accusers

By Scott Alonso, Public Information Officer, Contra Costa District Attorney

Today, Wed., June 5, 2019 the Contra Costa County District Attorney Office’s filed a Grand Jury Accusation against Contra Costa County Assessor Gus Kramer for “willful or corrupt” misconduct while serving as the county’s elected assessor (Government Code §§ 3060 et seq). Contra Costa County’s Civil Grand Jury asserts that the defendant violated state law in creating a hostile work environment for multiple employees in the Assessor’s Office. Due to state law, our Office must accept, serve and file the accusation against the defendant. If a jury finds Mr. Kramer violated the law and if he is convicted, he will be removed from his position as the county’s elected assessor.

The Accusation alleges misconduct by Kramer which occurred from December 2013 through 2019. The Grand Jury Accusation alleges that Mr. Kramer made sexual comments towards female employees and his disparaging remarks targeted one of the victim’s ethnicity. The Civil Grand Jury found this alleged conduct was “hostile or abusive” against four employees. As a result, the Civil Grand Jury through its investigation found that this conduct by Mr. Kramer created a hostile work environment for his employees and is therefore a violation of the Fair Housing and Employment Act.

Due to the sensitive nature of the allegations and to protect the privacy of the victims we will not be releasing any of their names.

Earlier this morning Senior Deputy District Attorney Christopher Walpole presented the filing before Contra Costa County Superior Court Judge Theresa Canepa in Department 35. Our Office was not involved and did not participate in the investigation by the Civil Grand Jury. The District Attorney requested a judicial hearing to determine if the Office will be recused from the remainder of this proceeding.

The foreperson for the 2018-2019 Grand Jury is Richard S. Nakano. State law lists the requirements for the Civil Grand Jury and District Attorney’s Office to process an accusation against a public official.

UPDATE: When reached for comment Kramer stated, “I welcome the opportunity to face my accusers after all these years of these behind doors accusations. When the facts come out, I have had not one, I have had not two, but I have had three independent investigations done by the county and I have been exonerated for sexual harassment, hostile work environment, and retaliation.”

“The sad part in all of this, the Grand Jury Foreman refused to hear my witnesses who would have refuted their claims. Worse he refused to give me the time I requested to present my side. They gave me two hours. I requested eight hours. The other side had more than 10 hours. Nor did he share all the information I provided him” he continued.” “The Grand Jury Foreman is guilty of obstruction of justice.”

When this is all over, the East Bay Times, the Board of Supervisors and their appointees on the Grand Jury are going to be ashamed of themselves for the unwarranted prosecution and persecution of the County Assessor,” Kramer stated. “The saddest part of this is corruption in government is alive and well on our Board of Supervisors.”

Allen Payton contributed to this report.

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Contra Costa DA creates office’s first ever standalone conviction integrity unit

Monday, June 3rd, 2019

District Attorney Diana Becton announced recently that she has created the first ever standalone Conviction Integrity Unit for the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office. The unit will investigate wrongful conviction claims of actual innocence based on new evidence and information, and cases where there is evidence involving significant integrity issues. Interested parties can submit a claim using the forms on the district attorney’s website to the Conviction Integrity Unit through the District Attorney’s Office.

“Our Office is ethically bound to consider any legal wrongs committed during a prosecution of an individual. With this new unit, the public can be assured we have resources now at our disposal to investigate prior convictions and seek justice for the wrongly convicted. We have a duty as prosecutors to uphold the law and administer fair justice for all. Our Office now joins over 30 jurisdictions across the country in a growing movement to establish Conviction Integrity Units,” said Becton.

The Conviction Integrity Unit will also assist in reviewing and developing practices and policies related to training, case assessment, investigations, and disclosure obligations with the goal of preventing wrongful convictions in the first place. The unit is supervised by Deputy District Attorney Brian Feinberg and overseen by Assistant District Attorney Venus D. Johnson.

Multiple national and local criminal justice organizations such as the Innocence Project, Fair and Just Prosecution, and Immigration Legal Resource Center support DA Becton’s move to create the Conviction Integrity Unit.

In a support letter, Fair and Just Prosecution’s Miriam Aroni Krinsky wrote: “Having a process for review of convictions through a CIU is a recognized best practice around the nation. Establishing these protocols in Contra Costa County will protect the integrity of the criminal justice process and promote public safety by bolstering trust and confidence in local law enforcement and the justice system as a whole.”

Rose Cahn, a Criminal and Immigrant Justice Attorney with the Immigrant Legal Resource Center’s said: “We applaud the CCCDA’s leadership and its commitment to ensuring that innocent people do not face continued punishment, from inside or outside the criminal justice system.”

Northern California Innocence Project’s Executive Director, Linda Starr, also supports the creation of a standalone Conviction Integrity Unit as our Office’s new unit “includes all of the best practices — neutral, expansive, and collaborative review — which will lead to just results.”

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DA Becton updates immigration policy to avoid deportation of defendants to comply with state law

Wednesday, May 15th, 2019

By Allen Payton

Contra Costa County District Attorney Diana Becton issued a new policy for the DA’s Office focused on immigration. In order to comply with state and federal laws, the office has updated its immigration policy.

“It is important to have a standardized process in place to ensure we meet our obligations under the law. I am confident that with this new policy we can fairly review all options for a disposition while at the same time ensuring we meet the demands to protect the public and victims,” said DA Becton. “Moving forward, cases will be evaluated by our state legislative mandate to ‘consider the avoidance of adverse immigration consequences in the plea negotiation process as one factor in an effort to reach a just resolution.’”

Last July, for the first time ever, the entire DA’s office staff received an in-depth immigration training which focused on the role of prosecutors in considering adverse immigration consequences, i.e. deportation.

The law was changed in California in 2016 and now Penal Code Section 1016.3(b) mandates, “the prosecution … consider the avoidance of adverse immigration consequences in the plea negotiation process as one factor in an effort to reach a just resolution.”

The legislature enacted the law after finding “the immigration consequences of criminal convictions have a particularly strong impact in California. One out of every four persons living in the state is foreign-born. One out of every two children lives in a household headed by at least one foreign-born person. The majority of these children are United States citizens. It is estimated that 50,000 parents of California United States citizen children were deported in a little over two years. Once a person is deported, especially after a criminal conviction, it is extremely unlikely that he or she ever is permitted to return.” (Cal. Penal Code Section 1016.2(g)).

Following are aspects of Becton’s updated policy, under governing law, “consideration of immigration consequences during the plea negotiation process is mandatory” and “victim’s rights must also be included and considered in the plea negotiation process.”

The policy notes that “These internal guidelines are not intended to create any new procedural rights in favor of criminal defendants or to be enforceable in a court of law. Nor shall these guidelines be construed to create any presumptions that a previously sentenced defendant would have received any offer other than that which has already been extended and accepted.

The policy further states, “Prosecutors do not have an obligation to independently research or investigate the adverse immigration consequences that may result from a plea or criminal conviction.” But, they “shall consider adverse immigration consequences presented by the defense.”

In addition, the new policy requires that “the supervising prosecutor…determine based upon the totality of the circumstances if an appropriate disposition can be reached that neither jeopardizes public safety nor leads to disproportionate immigration consequences based on the information provided by the defense.”

According to the new policy, alternative considerations include, “Devising an alternative plea agreement that is factually honest and of a similar nature and consequence to the originally charged offense, but minimizes the defendant’s exposure to adverse immigration consequences; and Allowing language to be stricken from a charging document or plea colloquy while maintaining the truthfulness of the remaining charging language.”

Scott Alonso, Public Information Officer, Office of the Contra Costa County District Attorney contributed to this report.

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DA Becton announces end of backlog of untested sexual assault kits

Wednesday, March 13th, 2019

By Scott Alonso, Public Information Officer, Contra Costa County District Attorney

On Tuesday, March 12, 2019, District Attorney Diana Becton and staff attended an event in New York City to announce the end of the backlog of untested sexual assault kits in Contra Costa County. These results come from the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office participation in the Manhattan District Attorney’s Sexual Assault Kit Backlog Elimination Grant Program, a three-year grant program to test sexual assault kits.

Our Office was one of 32 grantees funded, totaling $1,841,535 to test 1,246 kits since 2015. The testing of these kits allowed for DNA evidence to be uploaded to the national DNA databank to assist in investigations and identify offenders.

“We partnered with 24 law enforcement agencies in our community to erase the backlog of sexual assault kits in Contra Costa County,” said Becton. “I want to express my gratitude for our partners working with our office to end the backlog. Testing these kits can help bring closure and justice to sexual assault victims. We are going to continue working on this issue to ensure we never have a backlog in our community again.”

To ease the burden of testing these kits, through this grant our Office collected the untested kits from participating agencies and sent the kits to Sorenson Forensics in Utah. The collaboration between Sorenson Forensics, the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Crime Lab and our Office allowed for a more efficient process of testing these kits.

Due to state law in California, law enforcement agencies have mandated reporting timeframes to test these kits. If an agency chooses not to test, they have to substantiate their reasons to the California Department of Justice. Our Office will continue to monitor the progress of all agencies in Contra Costa County to ensure state law is followed and no kits remain untested.

Overall, the Manhattan District Attorney’s program tested 55,242 kits and resulted in 18,803 DNA profiles uploaded into the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Combined DNA Index System (CODIS). Locally, the results here for our kits were:

  • 1,246 kits DNA tested (1978 to 2016)
  • 182 DNA profiles entered into CODIS
  • 122 Confirmatory hits
  • 51 Offender hits
  • 8 Cases reopened for further review by law enforcement agencies
  • Full compliance of all participating agencies
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Antioch man found guilty for attempted murder of 4 victims in 2016 shooting

Thursday, March 7th, 2019

Herald file photo.

By Scott Alonso, Public Information Officer, Contra Costa County District Attorney

On March 4, a Contra Costa County jury found defendant Kamani Stelly of Antioch guilty of five felonies, including the attempted murder of four victims and shooting at an occupied motor vehicle that contained innocent passersby, all stemming from a shooting committed by Stelly in broad daylight in December 2016. (See related article).

In the late morning of December 19, 2016, Stelly opened fire on a group of men at the corner of Cavallo Road and East 18th Street in Antioch. Stelly fired 18 shots from a semi-automatic pistol at the group of men as he paced from Cavallo Road towards the men at a nearby Little Caesar’s Pizza. One member of the targeted group was injured from Stelly’s shooting.

The busy intersection in Antioch is surrounded by local businesses and homes. One of Stelly’s bullets hit an innocent victim while she rode as a passenger in a moving car. As a result of the shooting, this young woman lost an eye and will use a wheelchair for the rest of her life.

Stelly now faces a maximum sentence of 160 years to life in state prison. Sentencing will occur on April 12, 2019 in front of the Honorable Nancy Stark – Department 20 of the Contra Costa County Superior Court in Martinez. Contra Costa County Deputy District Attorney Richard Ewenstein prosecuted the case on behalf of the People. The case originated in the Office’s Community Violence Reduction Unit.

“The defendant’s decision to resolve an argument with gunfire gravely wounded two people and endangered countless others. We are grateful to the members of the jury for their service and attention to this case and to the victims and witnesses of this crime for their courage in testifying,” stated DDA Ewenstein.

Stelly’s half-brother, Ronvell Scheneck pleaded no contest last year to being an accessory after the fact to the shooting and was sentenced to two years in prison. Another co-defendant, Cody Moss, will be sentenced to 12 years in state prison for his role in the attack.

Case information: People v. Kamani Stelly, Docket Number 05-171136-5

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