Archive for the ‘District Attorney’ Category

Contra Costa D.A. and Code for America announce 3,264 marijuana convictions will be cleared

Thursday, January 9th, 2020

Part of automatic record clearance partnership

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

Contra Costa County District Attorney Diana Becton and Code for America today announced that 3,264 marijuana convictions eligible for relief under Proposition 64 will be dismissed and sealed as part of their cutting-edge partnership.

“I am grateful the partnership with Code for America has given us the ability to deliver tangible results for members of our community by dismissing old marijuana convictions allowed under the law. Far too often old criminal convictions for minor drug offenses can leave a lasting mark on an individual’s life. The removal of these convictions effectively reduces barriers to licensing, education, housing and employment. It is imperative that we continue to be innovative in our approach to reforming and strengthening the criminal justice system,” said Diana Becton, District Attorney for Contra Costa County.

“At Code for America, we believe government can work dramatically better than it does today; the criminal justice system is one of the areas in which we are most failing the American people. We must make sure that California lives up to the obligation of Proposition 64 and now AB 1793,” said Jennifer Pahlka, Founder and Executive Director, Code for America. “I’d like to thank Contra Costa District Attorney Becton for her leadership on this issue. Through our partnership, we will remove barriers to employment, housing, health and education for thousands of Californians. By reimagining existing government systems through technology and user-centered design, we can rethink incarceration, reduce recidivism and restore opportunity.”

The Contra Costa District Attorney’s office used Code for America’s Clear My Record technology, which reads bulk criminal history data from the California Department of Justice, and securely and accurately analyzes eligibility for record remediation under state law.  This technology can analyze eligibility for thousands of convictions in just a few minutes, alleviating the need for DA staff to go through state criminal records one by one to evaluate eligibility, a time and labor-intensive process.

This partnership helps address wrongs caused by the failed war on drugs, felt most strongly by communities of color. Approximately 2,400 individuals will receive conviction relief through this partnership. Of those, approximately 36% are Black or African American, 45% are White, 15% are Latinx, 2% are Asian/Pacific Islander, and 2% are other or unknown.

Contra Costa is the fifth California District Attorney’s Office to announce a pilot partnership with Code for America and use Clear My Record Technology to clear marijuana-related convictions eligible under Proposition 64.  The other counties include San Francisco, Sacramento, San Joaquin and Los Angeles.   In total, these five pilots will help reduce or dismiss approximately 75,000 Proposition 64 eligible convictions.

Earlier this year, Code for America also launched its new Clear My Record Application and Implementation Blueprint, available at no cost and open source to all California counties.  These resources allow all District Attorneys’ offices to follow the lead of DA Becton and expedite and streamline review of Prop 64 convictions.

Record Clearance for the Digital Age

Record clearance was not built for the digital age.  Previously, each person seeking relief had to petition the court on their own to clear their records, but this is a time-consuming, expensive, and confusing process.  Because of these barriers, the vast majority of those eligible for relief have not received it.

With the aid of Code for America’s Clear My Record technology, a DA’s office can automatically and securely evaluate eligibility for record clearance for thousands of convictions in just a few minutes.

This requires no action on the part of the individual, and minimal staff time and resources from the DA’s office — two obstacles for record clearance. Streamlining conviction data processing will also make it easier for courts to update records, ensuring that individuals can obtain relief as soon as possible.

These partnerships set the standard for the statewide implementation of Assembly Bill 1793, which tasks prosecutors with affirmatively reviewing convictions eligible for dismissal or reduction under Proposition 64.  This novel approach also creates a blueprint for the future of record clearance for remedies beyond Proposition 64 — the development of policy and technology that expands, streamlines and automates the record clearance process at scale.

Code for America has been making it easier for people to remove eligible convictions from their records through Clear my Record technology since 2016.

About Code for America

Code for America believes government must work for the people, and by the people, in the digital age, starting with the people who need it most. We build digital services that enhance government capabilities, and we help others do the same across all levels of government. We organize thousands of volunteers across nearly 80 chapters nationwide who improve government in their local communities. Our goal: a 21st century government that effectively and equitably serves all Americans. Learn more at

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D.A. to dismiss three cases from Conviction Integrity Unit review of former Antioch Police Officer

Thursday, December 19th, 2019

“Records detailed (Officer Santiago) Castillo’s involvement in sharing confidential police information with an informant, improper handling of evidence and showing dishonesty during the internal affairs investigation.”

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

Today, Thursday, December 19, 2019, the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office announced three cases will be dismissed as a result of a review done by the Conviction Integrity Unit involving former Antioch Police Officer Santiago Castillo. In the interest of justice, two cases will be dismissed outright, and one case will have one count dismissed. Formal proceedings will be conducted on the record with the Contra Costa County Superior Court.

Officer Castillo’s subsequent conduct raises questions about the integrity of the underlying convictions in the three cases that will be dismissed. Records were released earlier this year by the Antioch Police Department concerning Castillo’s tenure with the agency, which prompted the Conviction Integrity Unit review. The records detailed Castillo’s involvement in sharing confidential police information with an informant, improper handling of evidence and showing dishonesty during the internal affairs investigation.

The dismissed cases and counts include the following:

  • Demetrius Sells, Docket 04-145620-1 (felony resisting an arrest by a peace officer)
  • Joseph O’Neal, Docket 04-187933-7 (misdemeanor reckless driving, driving on suspended license)
  • James McCullar, Docket 04-186384-4 (one count will be dismissed, misdemeanor reckless driving)

If a member of the public believes they have information regarding a prior conviction involving Castillo they may contact the unit and complete an application on our website:

The Conviction Integrity Unit was created by District Attorney Diana Becton.

“I created the first ever standalone Conviction Integrity Unit for this Office as the public needs to have faith in our criminal justice system” stated Becton. “A prior conviction with any impropriety causes a great disservice to our system. We will continue to review prior cases and conduct investigations as appropriate.”

Our Office notified Police Chief Tammany Brooks of the results of the review and Public Defender Robin Lipetzky.

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Contra Costa DA won’t charge five suspects in Orinda Halloween shooting deaths, wants more investigation

Monday, November 18th, 2019

Five suspects arrested, not charged and set to be released are Jason Iles, Shamron Mitchell, Devin Williamson, Lebraun Wallace and Jaquez Deshawn Sweeney. Photos by CoCoSheriff.

Suspects are or will be released; Sheriff stands by his department’s investigation.

By Allen Payton

In a news release, this evening, Scott Alonso, the Public Information Officer for Contra Costa District Attorney Diana Becton, wrote, “Today the District Attorney’s Office met with members of the Contra Costa County Office of the Sheriff to review the Orinda Halloween shooting incident. No criminal charges are being filed at this time against any individual. The investigation is ongoing. Anyone with information about the case should call the Sheriff’s Homicide Unit at 925-313-2600.” (See related article)

When reached for comment, Alonso said, “We made the decision about 5:00 p.m. tonight.”

Asked if all five suspects who were arrested would be released, he responded, “That’s my understanding, yes. If they have no holds are on their records, then they will be released, tonight. If there are no charges filed against them. Four are in custody of the Contra Costa Sheriff. One is in custody of the Marin County Sheriff.”

Asked why D.A. Becton chose not to charge any of the suspects, Alonso said, “We have a really high filing standard and we need more information. We are collaboratively working with the Sheriff’s Office to see what else is out there.”

“It’s very complex. We want more witnesses to come forward. There were a lot of people at that party,” he added.

When reached for comment and asked about the suspects, Jimmy Lee, the Director of Public Affairs for the Contra Costa County Office of the Sheriff responded, “They have either been released or are in the process.”

“We stand by our investigation and the arrests were made pursuant to a judge’s order,” he continued. “Although the district attorney may want more investigation done, the persons arrested and responsible for these crimes will ultimately be held to account. The entire investigation is ongoing, as is common in these types of complex cases.”

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County inmates, including former Antioch resident, indicted for attempted murder of fellow inmate

Monday, September 23rd, 2019

By Bobbi Mauler, Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office

Herald file photo from Antioch Police Department. No photo of Marco Salazar was available.

A Contra Costa County Grand Jury has indicted 23-year-old Brentwood resident, Marco Salazar and 37-year-old Sacramento resident, Joseph Malfitano, a former Antioch resident, for the attempted murder of an inmate at the Martinez Detention Facility. Salazar and Malfitano were also indicted on enhancements for committing that offense for the benefit of a criminal street gang and causing great bodily injury to the victim. Additionally, they were indicted on one count of street terrorism as they were found to actively participate in the gang.

On May 4, 2019, the defendants were involved in a gang related stabbing of a fellow inmate, Edward Nachor, in the neck, in the MDF. The attack was on behalf of the Norteño and Crazy Ass Latinos (CAL) gang. The victim survived the attack but, suffered great bodily injury.

The indictment was unsealed on Monday, Sept. 23, 2019 in Dept. 3 of the county court in Martinez for their arraignment. Bail is set at $2,160,000 for Salazar and Malfitano is being held without bail. Deputy District Attorney Max Laettner is prosecuting the case. DDA Laettner is assigned to the Community Violence Reduction Unit of the DA’s office.

Salazar was arrested in Brentwood in May 2016 for attempted murder after stabbing a man in a grocery store. (See related article). Malfitano was arrested in Antioch in January 2017 for identify theft. (See related article).

Case Information: People v. Salazar & Malfitano Docket Number 05-191623-8.

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Third Human Trafficking Day of Action in East County set for September 19

Wednesday, September 18th, 2019

Training session to be held at the Antioch Police Department

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

Contra Costa County District Attorney Diana Becton is proud to join Antioch Councilmember Monica Wilson, the Antioch Police Department, the Contra Costa County Family Justice Center, Community Violence Solutions, the Contra Costa Human Trafficking Task Force and the Contra Costa Human Trafficking Coalition in hosting East County’s third Human Trafficking “Day of Action” on September 19, 2019.

Inspired by California State Senate Bill 1193, the Day of Action intends to educate individuals on how to recognize signs of human trafficking and inform them on how they can help prevent it. Members of the business community are encouraged to participate by posting human trafficking awareness signs with resources for victims to reach out to. Our local businesses are the extra eyes of our community and can help significantly in combating the crime of human trafficking in Contra Costa County.

A training session will be presented from 2:00 to 2:30 p.m. at the Antioch Police Department, located at 300 L. Street in Antioch. From there, attendees will form teams and talk with local businesses about putting up posters with resource information for people who may be experiencing forced or coerced labor or commercial sex. The outreach will occur from 2:30 to 4:00 p.m. The public is encouraged to attend and join with law enforcement, city leaders and community organizers to make a difference in our community.

Co-sponsors of the event include Brentwood City Councilmember Karen Rarey, Oakley City Councilmember Sue Higgins and Pittsburg City Councilmember Holland White.

If you or someone you know is being forced to engage in an activity and cannot leave, whether it is commercial sex or labor – call the national Human Trafficking Resource Center at 1-888-373-7888 or text “Be Free” or 233733.

Local resources include Community Violence Solutions and Contra Costa’s Family Justice Centers – with a new location at 3501 Lone Tree Way. Antioch, CA 94509.

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Antioch man, a convicted felon indicted for possession of multiple firearms, machine gun; creating untraceable firearms

Thursday, September 12th, 2019

Illegal guns confiscated from suspect. Photo by APD

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

Earlier this week a Contra Costa grand jury indictment was unsealed with multiple criminal counts against defendant Terry Ferguson, a 34-year-old resident of Antioch. The allegations include possession of a controlled substance with a firearm, possession of a machine gun, and possession of heroin. He also had multiple firearms in his possession. Ferguson allegedly used equipment to create untraceable firearms and converting a firearm into a machine gun. (See related article).

Ferguson was initially charged in a criminal complaint on March 27, 2019. The indictment included multiple charges for his alleged possession of firearms and ammunition as a previously convicted felon. In 2008 and 2014 he was convicted of felonies related to the possession of a controlled substance, child abuse and evading a peace officer while driving in a reckless manner. (See related article).

In March 2019, the Antioch Police Department served a search warrant at Ferguson’s residence. Officers at the scene found multiple firearms and ammunition in the defendant’s possession. The firearms recovered were a SKS rifle, two AR-15 rifles, a handgun with a selector switch, and a Ruger Mark IV .22 caliber pistol.

This week, Ferguson appeared for an arraignment in Department 3 of the Contra Costa County Superior Court before the Honorable Patricia Scanlon. Ferguson pleaded not guilty to the charges alleged in the indictment. Deputy District Attorney Jeffery Kolko is the prosecutor assigned to the case on behalf of the People. DDA Holmes is with our Community Violence Reduction Unit.

Case information: People v. Terry Domino Ferguson, Docket Number 05-191614-7

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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

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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