Archive for the ‘District Attorney’ Category

Graves concedes to Becton in District Attorney race

Friday, June 15th, 2018

By Allen Payton

In the face of interim appointed District Attorney Diana Becton’s growing lead, her main opponent in the June election, on Thursday Supervising Assistant D.A. Paul Graves sent out a letter to his supporters conceding the race.

Becton now has 921 more votes than is needed to win, with 50.49% of the vote, up from 50.01% in the last update on June 8. The County Clerk’s office announced on Wednesday that they have approximately 10,000 ballots left to count and that some of those might be disqualified.

In addition to thanking his supporters, during a brief interview Friday morning, Graves also thanked those who voted for him.

A Heartfelt Thank You

Dear Friends and Supporters,

Nearly all the votes have been counted, and although it is very close, it is unlikely we will have a runoff in November. This afternoon, I called Diana Becton to congratulate her on her expected election as District Attorney.

I am grateful for the support of Contra Costa’s law enforcement community and firefighters, Marc Klaas, and the support and confidence of my fellow prosecutors.

I have been especially moved by the survivors who have reached out to reconnect, and in doing so reminded me why I am a prosecutor. Most of all, I am grateful for the support and encouragement I have received from friends and my family, most of whom already knew that I was probably a better prosecutor than a politician.

I want to say to all my supporters that your dedication to this campaign has been humbling and inspiring, and I complete this chapter knowing that I would do it all over again for the privilege of fighting the good fight alongside you all. We didn’t just fight for “change,” we fought for the right change, and I know that we will continue to fight for the safety of our communities and justice for crime victims.

Most of all, we can be proud of our effort and that we maintained our integrity throughout this election, including the appointment process. The District Attorney’s office is an office built on trust, and we met our obligation to the people of Contra Costa with the type of campaign we ran from start to finish – armed with real knowledge, focused on real issues, and fueled by real, local grassroots support.

Now we must come together and support our newly-elected District Attorney for the sake of Contra Costa residents who are counting on us to put politics aside for their benefit and safety. This campaign has ended, but our worthy cause continues in our courtrooms every day.

Thank you all from the bottom of my heart,

Paul Graves

According to County Clerk-Registrar of Voters Joe Canciamilla, the final election results are expected to be announced next Friday, June 22 by 5:00 p.m. Please check back later for that final update.

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Nationwide Operation Broken Heart results in online child exploitation arrests in county

Wednesday, June 13th, 2018

Investigators with the Contra Costa County Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force recently participated in the nationwide Operation Broken Heart, a nationwide effort to investigate individuals exploiting children on the internet. Throughout March, 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 students about the risks associated with smartphones and social media. During the three-month period, investigators and prosecutors delivered presentations at six schools, reaching 140 parents and over 300 students. During the 2017/2018 school year, the ICAC task force has delivered presentations to over 300 parents and over 2,800 students in Contra Costa County.

The three-month nation-wide operation by the ICAC Task Force Program resulted in the arrests of 2,300 suspected online child sex offenders.

“No child should ever have to endure sexual abuse,” U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said. “And yet, in recent years, certain forms of modern technology have facilitated the spread of child pornography and created greater incentives for its production. We at the Department of Justice are determined to strike back against these repugnant crimes. It is shocking and very sad that in this one operation, we have arrested more than 2,300 alleged child predators and investigated some 25,200 sexual abuse complaints. Any would-be criminal should be warned: this Department will remain relentless in hunting down those who victimize our children.”

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

-On April 6, 2018, investigators arrested Russell Meirose of Milpitas, California. Meirose was arrested after chatting online with someone he believed to be a 13-year old girl and enticing her to meet for sex. Meirose was arrested at a hotel in Pleasanton after he rented a room for the girl and himself. The girl he was talking to was actually an undercover police officer. Meirose has been charged with multiple felonies including attempted lewd acts with a child and arranging to meet a minor for sex.

-On April 19, 2018, investigators arrested Andrew Lund, a fourth grade teacher and school supervisor at Glen Cove Elementary school in Vallejo. Lund was arrested after it was determined he was sending harmful material to a person he believed to be a minor and attempting to arrange a meeting with that 14-year-old girl for sex. In reality, Lund was chatting with an undercover police officer. When investigators searched his house in Vallejo, they located child pornography on Lund’s cell phone. Lund has been charged with possession of child pornography and sending harmful material to a minor, among other charges.

In conjunction with Operation Broken Heart, on May 25, 2018, which is nationally recognized as Missing Children’s Day, the ICAC task force executed three search warrants in Contra Costa County, targeting offenders distributing child pornography.

-Investigators with the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office, Contra Costa FBI Safe Streets Task Force, San Ramon Police Department, United States Secret Service, San Jose Police Department, Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office and the Contra Costa County Probation Department served a search warrant in the 1200 block of Elmwood Drive in Walnut Creek. Investigators located a significant quantity of child pornography on computer devices inside of the home and the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office is currently reviewing the case for potential criminal charges.

-Investigators with the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office served a search warrant in the 200 block of Hillside Ave in Antioch. Investigators located a significant quantity of child pornography on computer devices inside of the home and arrested Raymond Myers for possession of child pornography. The Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office is currently reviewing the case for potential criminal charges.

-Investigators with the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office and Homeland Security Investigations, Child Exploitation Unit, served a search warrant on Brush Creek Drive in Pittsburg. Investigators located a significant quantity of child pornography on computer devices inside of the home and the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office is currently reviewing the case for potential criminal charges.

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, Martinez, San Ramon, Concord and Moraga Police Departments, the 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 Deputy District Attorney Lauren Whalen at lwhalen@contracostada.org or Senior Inspector Darryl Holcombe at dholcombe@contracostada.org.

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Becton expands lead, may have won Contra Costa District Attorney’s race, Graves not conceding

Friday, June 8th, 2018

Election results as of Friday, June 6, 2018. From cocovote.us.

By Allen Payton

After counting about 20,000 of the remaining ballots from Tuesday night’s election in Contra Costa County, appointed Interim District Attorney Diana Becton has expanded her lead by another 1,000 votes to 50.01% over her main opponent, and Supervising Deputy District Attorney Paul Graves who now has 42.29%. She now leads him by 11,398 votes. To avoid a runoff in the November election, she only needs to win by 50% plus one vote.

However, Graves is not conceding, yet.

“There are still thousands of provisional votes to be counted,” said Katie DeFerraria, his campaign manager. “When the votes are all in there will be an opportunity for comment. Right now, Paul Graves will continue to focus on his responsibilities as a prosecutor for the people of Contra Costa.”

According to County Clerk-Registrar of Voters Joe Canciamilla, his office has counted “174,000 ballots so far, and we have 50,000 vote-by-mails to go and 10,000 provisionals. So, 60,000 total, roughly.”

Asked when the next update will be, her responded, “We’re going to hopefully have all of the vote-by-mail done and a semi-final by Wednesday. Then on June 22 we should have a full, final report with the provisionals included.”

For all of the latest election results in the county, click here.

Please check back Wednesday for the next update to the election results in Contra Costa County.

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Editorial: Graves is the clear choice for Contra Costa District Attorney

Thursday, May 31st, 2018

Paul Graves

By Allen Payton, Publisher & Editor

In the race for District Attorney there is one candidate who has the experience to be the top prosecutor we need in Contra Costa County. That’s Senior Deputy District Attorney Paul Graves.

Unlike his current boss, Interim D.A. Diana Becton, who was appointed on a 3-2 vote of the Board of Supervisors, last year, Graves has 22 years of experience prosecuting crime in our county. She has never prosecuted a single case. Yes, Becton served for 30 years as a judge, but that’s not the same thing.

Also, Graves was the first candidate to declare and was willing to run against his former boss, Mark Peterson, who had not yet resigned following a controversy regarding lack of disclosure of loans to himself from his campaign funds.

Becton only entered the appointment process after Peterson’s resignation, which doesn’t show me a serious interest or commitment to the position.

Although accused of being part of the problem, Graves was not part of Peterson’s inner circle. He’s running to restore integrity to the office. Becton on the other hand, admitted to plagiarizing large portions of her application for the position. Yet, three supervisors still voted to appoint her.

The third candidate in the race, businessman and attorney Lawrence Strauss, is opposed to the death penalty – even for cop killers. That to me is an immediate disqualification. If you’re going to be the top prosecutor in the county, you need to be willing to follow and enforce all laws in our state, whether you agree with them or not.

Another thing to look at is who is backing the candidates. Graves has the support of all the Deputy District Attorneys, as well as all of the police officer associations, in the county. Those who enforce the law know Graves is the one candidate who will do the same.

Becton’s backers include the ultraliberal, former San Francisco D.A. and now U.S. Senator Kamala Harris and worse, the soft-on-crime billionaire George Soros. Why are they interfering in our county’s law enforcement? Do we really want to model our D.A.’s office after San Francisco’s? Of course not.

Worst of all, Becton is missing too many days from the office for a job that pays her more than $250,000 per year.

We need a prosecutor who will restore leadership and integrity to the Contra Costa D.A.’s office. Voting for Paul Graves will accomplish that.

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Billionaire Soros backs plagiarist in Contra Costa DA’s race: candidate of ‘integrity’

Sunday, May 27th, 2018

By Randy DeSotoWestern JournalRepublished with permission

Originally published May 24, 2018 at 12:20 pm

Soros. Photo from ff.org

Billionaire George Soros is backing an admitted plagiarist in a district attorney’s race in northern California, funding campaign literature that describes her as a candidate of “integrity.” Hers is just one of multiple DA races in which Soros is trying influence the election’s outcome.

The Los Angeles Times reported Soros has dropped over $2.7 million in California DA races this election cycle, and since 2014 has spent more than $16 million in 17 county races in other states. His chosen candidates have won 13 of them.

“Wealthy donors are spending millions of dollars to back would-be prosecutors who want to reduce incarceration, crack down on police misconduct and revamp a bail system they contend unfairly imprisons poor people before trial,” according to The Times.

Soros has waded into the Contra Costa County DA’s race to the tune of $275,000 backing interim Democrat DA Diana Becton.

In addition to supporting Becton, the self-described philanthropist has intervened in the DA contests in San Diego County spending $1.5 million, according to San Diego Tribune, and Sacramento County with another $375,000, The Sacramento Bee is reporting.

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Becton, 66, was chosen as Contra Costa County’s interim DA last September among five applicants to the position, in a narrow 3-2 vote by the county’s board of supervisors.

The choice by the board of supervisors came despite the revelation that the former judge plagiarized significant portions of her application and unlike other candidates, including Contra Costa County District Attorneys’ Association endorsed Paul Graves, has no prosecutorial experience.

Becton is the county’s first female and African American district attorney, which Soros made a top selling point in a recent mailer sent to voters throughout the county ahead of the June 5 election to decide who will take up the seat for a full term.

The piece describes Becton as someone with “experience, integrity, and progressive values.”

The East Bay Times reported in Becton’s plagiarized application to become interim DA that she “took more than 100 words from a widely publicized letter written by U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, D-California, and U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, regarding criminal justice reform.”

She also cut and pasted portions from neighboring Alameda County’s District Attorney’s website regarding the issue of community development.

Do you think Soros is seeking to undermine traditional American values?

Other text came word-for-word from a March 1994 issue of Harvard Business Review. Even a direct quote from Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” Speech made it into her application, which read, “When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was an heir.”

In all, at least seven portions of her application were plagiarized from others’ words, which were chronicled in an anonymous letter sent to multiple media outlets.

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Last September, Becton described her actions to the board of supervisors as a “mistake,” the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

“I drew liberally from all kinds of sources because I wanted to lift certain issues up,” she said. “I recognize that I should have used quotation marks when I used words of other people, and I didn’t do that. I own the mistake.”

“That is the same kind of leadership and transparency and accountability that I will bring to the district attorney’s office,” Becton added.

The editorial board for the East Bay Times backed Graves over Becton earlier this month, citing her plagiarism, in part.

“It’s the sort of plagiarism that’s unacceptable from a high school student, much less the county’s most powerful law enforcement official. But, to this day, Becton still doesn’t fully comprehend what she did wrong,” the editors wrote.

Her “mistake” is surprising, given her experience as a judge, and being a law school and college gradate. The proper citation of sources is central to the legal craft.

Aron DeFerrari — president of Contra Costa County District Attorneys’ Association — told The Western Journal he thought Becton would no longer be under consideration for the position after admitting to plagiarism.

“There is no way they can appoint somebody who plagiarized her application,” he recalled thinking at the time.

His group had endorsed Graves for the appointment and is supporting his candidacy in the election.

Graves, a Republican, is a current Contra Costa County prosecutor, who oversaw the Homicide Unit and now oversees the Family Violence Unit.

“The biggest compliment you can pay a prosecutor is to call him a grinder,” said Deferrari, who serves with Graves in the DA’s office. “Paul is a straight up grinder. There is a reason for that. This job is important. This job takes a lot of time and effort. You don’t do this job well between 8:30 to five, four or five days a week.”

“Paul Graves has demonstrated that commitment to victims of crime and he’s done so for the last 22 years,” DeFerrari added. “He is the only candidate in this election that has done that. It’s how he has earned the respect and support of every law enforcement agency in this County.”

According to his website, Graves is endorsed by over a dozen police officers’ organizations, as well as a plethora of local officials, from city council members to multiple judges.

Paul Graves Speaks Out Against George Soros Trying to Buy Contra Costa District Attorney’s Race http://eastcountytoday.net/paul-graves-speaks-out-against-george-soros-trying-to-buy-contra-costa-district-attorneys-race/ …

eastcountytoday.net (@eastcountytoday) 11:22 AM – May 9, 2018

Becton puts Sen. Harris at the top of her endorsements list followed by various Democratic members of Congress, mayors, government and non-government labor unions, and city council members, but support from the law enforcement community is all but absent.

DeFerrari told The Journal there is a reason law enforcement groups are backing Graves over Becton.

“Her actions and her lack of commitment to this job, from the moment she submitted her application to the place we are standing today, have not earned our respect as criminal prosecutors,” said DeFarrari. “This job requires absolute commitment to fighting for victims of crime each and every day and not just Monday through Friday.”

A review of Becton’s calendar obtained by a public records request by a Graves supporter shows the interim DA spent a substantial amount of time away from the office during her first six months in office, particularly for someone with no prosecutorial experience.

Just weeks after being sworn in as DA in late September, Becton traveled to Atlanta for a National Association of Women Judges convention, missing three work days.

She then traveled from there to Virginia for the Women in Power and Politics event the following week. In late October, the former judge went to an event at Stanford University. In November, Becton was out of the office for two days to participate in a “Fair and Just Prosecution” event focused on rolling back the “tough on crime” approach to law enforcement.

In a statement endorsing Becton, the Soros aligned Real Justice PAC indicated this will be top priority of the candidate.

“If elected she will make history as the prosecutor who took on mass incarceration by pushing through much needed bail reform, restorative justice programs, and an end to racial disparities in charging and sentencing,” said the group’s co-founder Shaun King.

The DA took vacation from Nov. 23 – 30, as well as Dec. 26 and Dec. 29 to Jan. 2, 2018, missing another six work days.

A review of the key card access to the Contra Costa Country DA office, also obtained through a public records request, showed that Becton did not come to her office a single weekend during her first six months in office from Oct. 1, 2017 to March 31, 2018.

However, Graves was in the office over a dozen weekend days. Paul Thompson, a deputy district attorney in Los Angeles County, noted it is common for prosecutors to work weekends in the lead up to a trial.

“If we’re in trial, which happens for the typical trial attorney 6-15 weeks out of the year…weekly work hours double, meaning that we’re working nights and weekends,” he said.

Scott Alonso, the Public Information Officer for the Contra Costa County DA’s office told The Western Journal just because Becton is not physically in the office, it does not mean she is not working.

“She works long hours inside the office and outside the office,” he said. “With this type of work, she’s on call 24-7. She’s in constant daily communication with her attorneys and with members of her leadership team.”

DeFerrari fears Becton is more interested in the position than the work it entails.

“You want somebody who wants to do the job,” he said, “not just somebody who wants to have the job.”

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Contra Costa District Attorney Candidates Forum May 29 in Pittsburg

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2018

Candidates for the Contra Costa County District Attorney will speak from 6:00-7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, May 29 at Los Medanos College.  The Candidates Forum, sponsored by the Pittsburg Chamber of Commerce and the League of Women Voters of Diablo Valley, will be held in the college’s Recital Hall, 2700 East Leland Road in Pittsburg.

Candidates Diana Becton, Paul Graves and Lawrence Strauss will give a brief opening statement followed by prepared questions from the Chamber and screened questions from the audience. Questions will focus on current issues, such as the management of the District Attorney’s Office, public safety, and concerns of the business community. Gail Murray, longtime League member and former Walnut Creek mayor and BART Board member, will be the moderator.

The meeting is open to the public, but reservations are requested at mypittsburgchamber.org.

The League of Women Voters and the Pittsburg Chamber of Commerce are jointly sponsoring the event to inform and educate voters. Neither the nonpartisan League nor the Pittsburg Chamber is endorsing any candidate. 

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Contra Costa County Clean Slate Day set for May 19 in Antioch

Wednesday, May 16th, 2018

This Saturday is Clean Slate Day in Antioch that allows individuals to apply for and receive a reduction or dismissal of a prior conviction. The Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office, Public Defender’s Office and Antioch Police Department are co-hosting Saturday’s event.

The event is open to the public. Residents can register for Saturday through Code for America at www.clearmyrecord.org

“Clean Slate Day will help remove barriers for members of our community trying to get a fresh start. With this partnership, we are able to assist hundreds seeking legal assistance,” stated Contra Costa County District Attorney Diana Becton. “Prior convictions can leave a lasting mark on an individual’s record and life. We must continue to seek opportunities to bring law enforcement and the legal community together with the community to ease tensions and clear old convictions.” Becton initially organized a Clean Slate Day in Richmond, California when she served as a Contra Costa County Superior Court Judge in 2016.

The Clean Slate Program operates throughout the entire year and is managed by the Public Defender’s Office. Individuals can contact the program at 925-335-8150 for questions about seeking Proposition 47 relief, record sealing, legal advice and dismissals of convictions.  Residents can also register on an ongoing basis for the Clean Slate Program through Code for America at www.clearmyrecord.org

“Far too many people face barriers in accessing employment, housing, and education because of a prior criminal record.  Having one’s record expunged can have a transformative effect by making it easier for individuals to reintegrate back into their communities,” said Robin Lipetzky, Chief Public Defender. “Our Clean Slate team specializes in assisting people with clearing their records and giving them a second chance at life.”

This is the first event co-hosted with a law enforcement agency. Clean Slate Day starts at 10:00 a.m. and ends at 2:00 p.m. at Antioch Middle School.

“This event helps our community heal and thrive,” conveyed Antioch Police Chief Tammany Brooks. “We must work to reduce recidivism and assist individuals in navigating the criminal justice system.”

Other community partners offering services on Saturday will include the following organizations: Bay Area Legal Aid, Rubicon Programs, Contra Costa Reentry Network, and the Safe Return Project.

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Deputy DA’s endorse Graves for Contra Costa District Attorney

Tuesday, March 13th, 2018

Contra Costa Senior Deputy District Attorney Paul Graves. Photo courtesy of Paul Graves for DA

The Contra Costa County District Attorneys’ Association endorses Paul Graves for District Attorney.  Delivering the news, Association President Aron DeFerrari noted “Paul has the experience and integrity Contra Costa deserves in its next District Attorney.”

Stephanie Kang, a DAs’ Association Board Member, noted “Paul Graves is exactly the type of person who should be leading the change and reforms Contra Costa needs.  Paul Graves had the courage and leadership to stand up against Mark Peterson’s misconduct and run against him even though taking a stand risked Paul’s career.”  

Lauren Whalen, another Association Board Member, and lifelong Contra Costa County resident, said “Paul’s actions put Contra Costa first and we know he’ll continue to do so as District Attorney.”

Steve Bolen, an Association Board Member noted “Our prosecutors are eager for change. We embrace the idea of a fresh start and the possibilities it offers. Most importantly, we care about the safety of the residents and communities we serve.  We know Paul Graves puts public safety above politics, that’s what matters to us.” 

The people of Contra Costa deserve an experienced, trusted prosecutor who can provide the leadership needed to keep our communities safe.  Paul Graves alone offers both that experience and integrity. He should be Contra Costa’s next District Attorney.

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