Archive for the ‘District Attorney’ Category

Second murder charge filed against driver in stolen vehicle crash in Antioch last Wednesday

Monday, January 22nd, 2018

Screenshot from ABC7 News of Camila and Lenexy Cardoza, the victims of a fatal stolen vehicle crash in Antioch, Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2018.

Second Cardoza daughter dies; Bail for suspect increased to $2,130,000

By Jimmy Lee, Director of Public Affairs, Contra Costa County Office of the Sheriff

The Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office has filed an additional murder charge against 23-year-old Noe Saucedo of Pittsburg.

On Friday the DA’s Office filed formal charges against Saucedo. He was charged with murder, felony evading, possession of a stolen vehicle, possession of methamphetamine, and possession of heroin.

Saucedo remains in custody at the Martinez Detention Facility. He is being held in lieu of $2,130,000 bail.

We are saddened to report that 2-year-old Camila Cardoza was officially pronounced deceased at the hospital. Camila was a passenger, along with her sister Lenexy, in a vehicle that was struck by a stolen pick-up truck driven by Noe Saucedo on Wednesday on Somersville Road in Antioch. Lenexy was killed in the collision.

The investigation into the collision is ongoing by the Contra Costa County D.A.’s Office, California Highway Patrol, Antioch Police Department and the Office of the Sheriff per the officer-involved protocol. Investigators are trying to determine why suspect Saucedo stole the Ford F-250 pick-up truck in Pittsburg, why he accelerated away from a Deputy Sheriff who was following him, and why he ran through a red light at the intersection of Somersville Road and the eastbound Highway 4 off-ramp before colliding into another vehicle. In addition, tests are being conducted to determine if Saucedo was impaired in any way.

Anyone with any information on this incident or who may have witnessed it is asked to contact the Office of the Sheriff Investigation Division at (925) 313-2600. For any tips, please email: tips@so.cccounty.us or call 866-846-3592 to leave an anonymous voice message.

For further news about this case on ABC7 News, click here.

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Murder, other charges filed against driver of stolen vehicle in Wednesday crash in Antioch

Friday, January 19th, 2018

Bail set at $1,130,000 for Pittsburg resident Noe Saucedo

By Jimmy Lee, Director of Public Affairs, Contra Costa County Office of the Sheriff

Noe Saucedo arrest photo. By Contra Costa County Sheriff

Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office this afternoon filed formal charges against Noe Saucedo, the suspect who drove a stolen pick-up truck on Wednesday that crashed into another vehicle on Somersville Road in Antioch. He is being charged with murder, felony evading, possession of a stolen vehicle, possession of methamphetamine, and possession of hero-in. 23-year-old Saucedo of Pittsburg remains in custody at the Martinez Detention Facility. He is being held in lieu of $1,130,000 bail.

The investigation into the collision is ongoing by the Contra Costa County D.A.’s Office, California Highway Patrol, Antioch Police Department and the Office of the Sheriff per the officer-involved protocol. Investigators are trying to determine why suspect Saucedo stole the Ford F-250 pick-up truck in Pittsburg, why he accelerated away from a Deputy Sheriff who was following him, and why he ran through a red light at the intersection of Somersville Road and the eastbound Highway 4 off-ramp before colliding into another vehicle. In addition, tests are being conducted to determine if Saucedo was impaired in any way.

Yesterday, the four-year-old girl who was killed in the vehicle collision was identified as Lenexy Cordoza. Her two-year-old sister and mother remain at the hospital.

“Clearly, suspect Saucedo took a series of actions that led to this tragedy,” said Contra Costa Sheriff David Livingston. “We are saddened by the loss of life and offer our deepest sympathies to the family.”

Anyone with any information on this incident or who may have witnessed it is asked to contact the Office of the Sheriff at (925) 646-2441. For any tips, please email: tips@so.cccounty.us or call 866-846-3592 to leave an anonymous voice message.

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Progressive prosecutor Patrick Vanier drops out of DA’s race backs Becton

Friday, January 12th, 2018

Patrick Vanier. Herald file photo

Today, Friday, January 12, 2018, Patrick Vanier, Supervising Prosecutor in Santa Clara County, and a candidate for Contra Costa County District Attorney issued the following statement:

“When I announced my candidacy for District Attorney last spring, I made it clear that my candidacy was not about me, but about bringing real reform to the office of District Attorney and instituting best practices to bring Contra Costa County’s criminal justice system into the 21st Century.  I was the first to declare my candidacy to challenge former DA Mark Peterson and I am proud to have started the dialogue for change.

A little more than a month later, Mark Peterson resigned from office.  Upon his resignation, the County initiated an appointment process to fill the vacancy. I was honored to be selected by the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors as a finalist in that process.

During the appointment process in the summer and fall, I again made it clear that if a person was appointed who can bring progressive leadership to the office of District Attorney and will modernize and standardize how cases are prosecuted, I may not seek election.

Ultimately, the Board of Supervisors voted to appoint retired Judge Diana Becton to be District Attorney. (See related article) Although I was disappointed in not receiving the appointment, I respected the Supervisors’ decision as they recognized the importance of selecting a candidate from outside the dysfunction of the current office. While I was in this race to win, as I felt that I possess the skills this County needs, I also realize the importance of ensuring that change does indeed occur.

Over the past several months I have been following the developments within the Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office under District Attorney Diana Becton.  I believe she has undertaken a course of action to run the department in an honest and ethical manner and will utilize the latest technologies, data analytics, and community prosecution models to prevent crime and prosecute cases. I want this County to be focused on ensuring that change continues.

For these reasons, I have decided to withdraw from the race for Contra Costa County District Attorney and fully support and endorse Diana Becton.

I want to thank my supporters for their unflagging support and encouragement and I will be urging them to support Diana Becton.”

On his campaign website, Vanier said he offered “progressive leadership” to the people of Contra Costa County. With him out of the race the remaining candidates, currently are the appointed incumbent, Interim Contra Costa DA Becton and Contra Costa Senior Deputy District Attorney Paul Graves, who entered the race last spring to take on Peterson, prior to his resignation and has the support of most law enforcement organizations in the county. If no other candidates enter the race the winner of the Primary Election in June will be elected. According to the County Elections Office website, the filing period for the election begins February 12 and ends March 9.

Allen Payton contributed to this report.

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FBI: Bust of eight East County gang members on murder, conspiracy, pimping and firearms charges

Wednesday, December 20th, 2017

Eight alleged East County gang members who are suspects in a variety of crimes were arrested on Oct. 27. Photos by FBI Northern CA District

Arrested on Oct. 27th

By Allen Payton

FBI Special Agent in Charge John F. Bennett of the Northern California District office and Interim Contra Costa District Attorney Diana Becton announced on Wednesday the Oct. 27th arrests of eight East County gang members on murder, conspiracy to commit murder, pimping and firearms charges.

Bennett and Becton were joined by Pittsburg Police Chief Brian Addington and representatives from the Richmond Police Department, Contra Costa Sheriff’s Department, San Francisco SWAT, El Cerrito Police Department, Contra Costa County Probation Department, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, San Pablo Police Department, Concord Police Department, and the California Highway Patrol.

Known as Operation Klap It Out, the joint effort resulted in the arrests of the suspects and the seizure of a variety of firearms during the search warrants, according to FBI Public Information Officer Cameron Polan.

Seven suspects and alleged members of the Klap Sh**/Broad Day gang from Antioch and Pittsburg were identified as Darnell Keyon Lash age 24, D’Vance Jaquez Sumblin age 20, Javelle Cooksey age 19, Lester Gene Curry age 21 (as of Tuesday), Ezell Tommy Jenkins age 19, Dasheid Keyonta Lash age 21, and Larry Darnell Goines, Jr. age 32. An eighth suspect gang member, Giovante Boyd was also arrested on an outstanding warrant for murder, but was not included in the complaint filed by the DA’s office against the other seven.

According to the complaint they were charged with the following eight counts: conspiracy to commit a crime – murder, carrying a loaded firearm/street gang, possession of firearm by a felon – prior(s), dissuading a witness by force or threat, conspiracy to commit a crime – second degree burglary, carrying a loaded firearm/street gang, conspiracy to commit a crime – pimping, and street terrorism.

“All eight are currently in a preliminary hearing which has been ongoing since Monday,” Polan added.

12/21/17 UPDATE: Asked about the delay in announcing the arrests she replied, “The delayed announcement was due to new leads that were presented as a result of the search warrants executed. The investigators did not want to jeopardize the new information with a public announcement.”

See the charges filed against the seven suspects, here: Charges filed vs Operation Klap It Out gang suspects

The firearms seized during Operation Klap It Out.

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Antioch police arrest “prime suspect” in 37-year-old Bombardier murder case Monday

Tuesday, December 12th, 2017

Mitchell Lynn Bacom, now and as he looked in the 1980’s. Photos courtesy of APD

“Justice for Suzanne” means “Antioch is safer, tonight”

Suzanne Bombardier. Herald file photo.

By Allen Payton

At around 5:00 p.m. Monday evening, the family of Suzanne Bombardier whose kidnapping, rape and murder had gone unsolved for 37 years, finally had closure when Antioch police arrested 63-year-old Mitchell Lynn Bacom at his home in Antioch. During a press conference Monday night, Antioch Police Chief Tammany Brooks announced the arrest saying he was “ecstatic” and credited retired Captain Leonard Orman, DNA testing by the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office Forensic Lab and the Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office.

Bacom, an Antioch resident, was arrested without incident in front of his house in the 300 block of West Madill.

“This closes the oldest, open cold case homicide on record with the Antioch Police Department,” Brooks stated, and then thanked “Suzanne Bombardier’s family for not giving up hope,” although “it would not bring Suzanne back.” He further said it was solved through “patience and persistence.”

Orman was brought back to work on the case, earlier this year after the DNA was sent to the crime lab two years ago and got a hit by CODIS, the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System, in May. Interim DA Diana Becton gave credit to Paul Holes, her office’s Cold Case Investigator and Chief of Forensic and the Safe Streets Task Force.

“Justice may not have come as swiftly as we would like,” she stated, and said her office will be filing charges against Bacom tomorrow of “murder with use of a deadly weapon and additional charges, as well.”

Bombardier was taken in the middle of the night from her sister’s home at 3421 Hudson Court in Antioch while babysitting. She was missing for approximately five days and eventually found deceased in the San Joaquin River near the Antioch Bridge. Her cause of death was determined to be one stab wound to the chest which penetrated her heart. Evidence at the time indicated she had been sexually assaulted.

Numerous suspects and persons of interest were developed and investigated over the years. Some were eliminated while others remained unresolved until recently. Bacom was one of the original suspects in the case, “the prime suspect” according to former Antioch Detective Greg Glod who worked the case, along with retired Detective Ron Rackley who first took the report that initiated the investigation in 1980.

Two years ago, during the 35th anniversary of the murder, they and retired Antioch Sgt. Larry Hopwood asked then Chief Allan Cantando to reopen the case and offered to serve as a volunteer cold case squad. They launched a media campaign to raise awareness of the cold case. (See related article). Later that year the DNA was sent to the crime lab for testing.

Through that DNA testing, one of the suspects, 63-year-old Mitchell Lynn Bacom of Antioch, has been determined to be responsible for these heinous crimes. He is currently being held on the charges of murder, kidnapping, rape and oral copulation.

“He was never off the suspect list,” Brooks stated, and that “he was known to Suzanne and the family.”

“That’s who we always suspected,” Rackley stated, when reached for comment following the press conference. “We can finally sleep again.”

“I knew this all along,” Glod said when reached at his home in the Washington, D.C. area, where he now works for the U.S. Secret Service as an instructor at their academy. “He was clearly the prime suspect, clearly in my mind, from the beginning.”

Antioch Police Chief Tammany Brooks was joined by (L-R) Antioch Police Captain Diane Aguinaga and retired Captain Leonard Orman, as well as Paul Holes, the Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office Cold Case Investigator and Chief of Forensics, and Interim Contra Costa DA Diana Becton.

Suspect Had History of Violent Crime

In 1973, Bacom was arrested in Mountain View, California for rape, robbery, assault with intent to commit murder and oral copulation. As a result of that investigation, he was convicted in 1974 of first and second-degree burglary, assault with intent to murder and sodomy. He was sentenced to five years to life.

In February of 1981, Bacom was arrested for robbery and rape in Isleton, California. As a result of that case, he was convicted of first degree burglary, robbery, rape and sodomy. He was sentenced to 24 years in prison.

In 2002, Bacom was convicted in Contra Costa County of failing to properly register as a sex offender and sentenced to four years in prison. This conviction was the result of a Pittsburg Police Department investigation.

When the biological evidence was originally collected in this case, DNA testing did not exist as a method of determining guilt in our justice system. Over the years, the Antioch Police Department and the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office have monitored developments in DNA testing in the hopes that advancements would be made allowing this evidence to be processed and a DNA profile developed. In 2015, the decision was made to submit the biological evidence to the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office Forensic Laboratory in an effort to develop a DNA profile. This lab was equipped to conduct some of the most advanced available DNA testing. In early 2017, the department was notified that a CODIS hit was made tentatively identifying Mitchell Lynn Bacom as the perpetrator. Additional testing was required in order to confirm the identification.

Glod spoke about Bacom’s history of crime, saying, “I’m amazed how he got out of prison on the first one” and that “he was on parole when this took place,” referring to the Bombardier murder.

He gave credit to former Antioch Detective Guy Worth, who is currently battling cancer, and “is probably dancing, right now. He was instrumental…he did all he could to keep this case alive, in spite of all he’s going through.”

Glod also thanked the media for their articles and TV news segments in 2015 and 2016.

“I appreciate people like you (referring to the Herald), Henry Lee from KTVU, the Contra Costa Times and Jennifer Gibbbons, the author who wouldn’t let this go,” he stated.

“Although we are ecstatic an arrest has been made in this case it will not bring Suzanne back into her family’s lives,” Brooks said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with Suzanne Bombardier’s family and we hope this mystery being solved offers some level of comfort for them.”

Media from throughout the Bay Area was in attendance for the Tammany Brooks’ first press conference as Antioch Police Chief.

“Although in recent years there was some question relative to our commitment regarding this investigation, we never gave up on bringing this case to a resolution,” he shared. “The reality was that science had to make advances in order for a positive identification of the killer to be made. It was through patience, persistence, networking, modern investigative techniques and scientific advances that this case was solved.”

“I’m glad that people didn’t forget, the Antioch Police Department and District Attorney’s Office,” Glod said. “They were instrumental in solving this. It’s a good day for Antioch. Antioch did not forget their citizen. It’s great news for the family and all the friends who have been traumatized by this. We finally got some justice for Suzanne Bombardier.”

“It’s bringing some closure for me in my life,” he added. “This is a great moment for me. I’m glad to see it was him they arrested. This is big news.”

More Work Still To Be Done

When reached for comment, Orman said, “It was good to see it to this point,” knowing that there is still more work to be done following the arrest. “Antioch is safer tonight and that’s what matters,” he added.

“This does not constitute the end,” Brooks confirmed during his first press conference since becoming Chief in May, stating that the department needed to determine if Bacom has been involved in any other crimes.

As such, the Antioch Police Department will be networking with other law enforcement agencies in an effort to determine if Mitchell Lynn Bacom has been involved in other murders and/or sexual assaults. We encourage anyone with information regarding this case to contact the Antioch Police Department. Additionally, we are hoping to hear from any of Mitchell Lynn Bacom’s past victims, including those who may have never made reports to law enforcement.

Anyone wanting to provide information relative to Mitchell Lynn Bacom’s criminal conduct may contact Detective Leonard Orman at (925) 779-6918. Any further information or additional press releases will be provided by the Lt. Tarra Mendes at (925) 779-6946. You may also text a tip to 274637 (CRIMES) using key word ANTIOCH.

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Interim Contra Costa District Attorney Becton announces she will run in next year’s election

Wednesday, December 6th, 2017

Board of Supervisors Chairman Federal Glover with Interim D.A. Diana Becton following her oath of office ceremony on Sept. 18, 2017. Photo by David Fraser, Office of Supervisor Federal Glover

Today, Wednesday, December 6, 2017, District Attorney Diana Becton issued the following statement:

“It’s official: today, I filed my papers to run for District Attorney of Contra Costa County.

“I was selected as District Attorney by the Board of Supervisors to restore faith and trust in the District Attorney’s Office in the wake of scandal. I have rolled up my sleeves and I am hard at work. I am committing to restoring integrity to the office. I am confident that I will succeed. I am a collaborative leader who knows how to get things done.

“We cannot continue to look at the criminal justice system in a vacuum. We need a broad, universal approach to how we prevent crime, make our communities safe, and treat everyone fairly.

“As a longtime judge of the Superior Court in Contra Costa County, I am proud of my reputation for hard work, fairness, and integrity. I will bring these qualities to the campaign trail – and to the job.”

In September, Becton was appointed by the Board of Supervisors to fill the position made vacant by the resignation of Mark Peterson. She joins Contra Costa County Senior Assistant District Attorney Paul Graves and Santa Clara County Supervising Deputy District Attorney Patrick Vanier who announced their campaigns and entered the race prior to Peterson’s resignation. The Primary Election will be held June 4, 2018. If no candidate receives a majority of vote, the top two candidates will face off in the General Election in November.

Allen Payton contributed to this report.

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24 Hour Fitness to pay $1.2 million penalty for consumer protection violations

Thursday, November 2nd, 2017

Settlement will also include costs and restitution for misleading customers by falsely promising guaranteed annual renewal rates to obtain up-front fees

MARTINEZ, California — Contra Costa District Attorney Diana Becton, in conjunction with Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas, announced that on November 1, 2017, the District Attorney’s Consumer Protection Divisions reached a consumer protection settlement of $1.2 million in civil penalties against 24 Hour Fitness, Inc. The company must also pay $100,000 in costs to the County of Orange and Contra Costa, as well as pay restitution to the members who were misled by the promises of a low lifetime annual renewal rate in exchange for large up-front membership fees.

24 Hour Fitness is headquartered in San Ramon, Contra Costa County, California and has 400+ membership fitness gyms in 18 states, of which 140 are located in California. The allegations against 24 Hour Fitness state that between 2006 and 2009, 24 Hour sold pre-paid memberships in a false and misleading manner when 24 Hour sales representatives took large up-front fees for an initial 2 or 3-year membership period, with the promise that members would be guaranteed a low life-time annual renewal rate for life, as long as the member remained in good standing by paying their annual renewal fee on time. The up-front fees ranged from $600 to over $1400 with a promise of a fixed annual renewal rate between $29-$199 a year.

In 2006, 24 Hour made changes to the language of their pre-paid membership contracts that allowed for annual rate increases, but the District Attorneys alleged that 24 Hour sales representatives continued to sell these post-April 2006 memberships with verbal promises that their annual renewal rates would be guaranteed fixed for life. Consumers also believed they were misled by the verbal representations and in 2015, when 24 Hour began increasing annual renewal rates, they complained to the Company and the Better Business Bureau. They also started an on-line petition protesting the company’s broken promises.

The complaint alleges that 24 Hour refused to honor the verbal guarantees, so members who refused to pay the increased annual rate had their memberships terminated after having paid the large up-front fees or forced members to pay the increased rates.

The Settlement requires that 24 Hour Fitness allow pre-paid members to renew their memberships at the promised low annual lifetime renewal rate, if the member submits a claim form and declaration that they were told by a 24 Hour sales representative that their annual rate was guaranteed to remain the same for life.  All past and present 24 Hour Fitness members, who purchased post 2006 pre-paid membership contracts, or were updated to these contracts, and either paid the increase or were terminated for failure to pay the increase, will be sent a notice with instructions on how, where and when to submit their forms and declarations.

The District Attorney’s Offices want to make it clear that, if you receive a notice, it means you have one of the new contracts that allows for the increase, even if your rate has not yet been increased. It is important, that if you were promised a lifetime guaranteed annual renewal rate you must fill out the claim form and declaration to preserve or reinstate your guaranteed annual renewal rate. The restitution provisions of this settlement extend to qualifying pre-paid members nationwide.

24 Hour Fitness admitted no wrong-doing in the Settlement Agreement.

Deputy District Attorney Michelle Cipolletti from the Orange County District Attorney’s Consumer Protection Unit and Deputy District Attorney Dodie Katague from the Contra Costa Consumer Protection Unit prosecuted this case.

For further information, please contact DDA Dodie Katague at 925-957-8604.

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New Contra Costa DA Becton takes oath of office, begins her interim tenure

Sunday, September 24th, 2017

Diana Becton was given her oath of office as the interim Contra Costa County District Attorney by Board of Supervisors Chairman Federal Glover on Monday, Sept. 18, 2017 as the other Supervisors, John Gioia, Candace Andersen, Diane Burgis and Karen Mitchoff look on. Photos by David Fraser, Office of Supervisor Federal Glover

An overflow crowd of friends, family, colleagues and supporters gathered in the District Attorney’s Office Community Room for the ceremony.

By Allen Payton

Retired Superior Court Judge Diana Becton was sworn in as the new District Attorney for Contra Costa County on Monday, September 18th, at 4:30 p.m.  The oath of office was administered by Chairman of the Board of Supervisors, Federal Glover in the District Attorney’s Community Room in Martinez.

“I am honored to have been chosen by the Board of Supervisors to serve the people of Contra Costa County,” she said. “With over two decades of experience in the administration of justice and the practice of criminal law, I am excited by this new opportunity to reform our justice system and restore integrity to the DA’s office. I look forward to serving alongside law enforcement and county prosecutors to promote public safety, equality, fairness, and confidence in our courts and legal system.”

The overflow crowd included friends, colleagues and supporters, as well as her new office staff including her Deputy District Attorney overflowing into and standing in the hallway outside.

A Bay Area native and an El Sobrante resident, Becton attended Oakland public schools and received her B.A. in economics from S.F. State University and her J.D. from Golden Gate University Law School. She worked as the Housing Finance & Development Supervisor for the City of Richmond from 1979 to 1987. Prior to that she worked as the Housing Finance Corporation Manager Becton then worked as attorney in private practice from 1987 until 1995, first as a partner of Alexander & Becton (Brown) Law Offices which had has many as nine lawyers. Later she operated her own law practice, which according to her application for the appointment, “focused on litigation in real estate, business, landlord tenant, personal injury and criminal cases.”

Although Becton has no experience prosecuting criminal cases, in private practice she “was responsible for both criminal and juvenile cases. I appeared at arraignments and bail hearings, analyzed cases, talked to witnesses to determine what happened, identified strengths and weaknesses, participated in plea bargaining and resolution, developed trial strategies, conducted jury selection, opening statements, questioned witnesses, prepared law and motion, and presented closing arguments,” also according to her application. DBecton DA apptmt application

She was appointed to the court in 1995 by Gov. Pete Wilson and presided over a diverse collection of misdemeanor, felony, civil, mental health and juvenile cases.

In 2011, Becton was elected Presiding Judge of the Contra Costa Superior Court. In this capacity, she was responsible for leading the court and managing its staff and resources, including an annual budget of approximately $56 million. In 2012, Becton received the Rose Bird Memorial Award for judicial excellence from the California Women Lawyers. She subsequently served as President of the National Association of Women Judges.

In 2013 she obtained her Real Estate Broker’s license which expired in January. In 2015, Becton earned her Master’s degree in Theology from the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley. Upon her appointment, she became the first African American and first female Contra Costa County District Attorney.

“This job is a tremendous responsibility,” Becton said. “I am committed to restoring public trust in the DA’s office. The people of Contra Costa County need to be confident in their judicial system, and I will work tirelessly with law enforcement, deputy district attorneys, and public defenders to rebuild that trust. As District Attorney, I want to bring people together to improve our office’s accountability and encourage community engagement throughout Contra Costa County.”

According to a news release from the county, it was an informal ceremony at which the constitutional oath of office necessary for Becton to assume office was administered.  The ceremonial investiture proceeding that traditionally accompanies the District Attorney’s assumption of office will be held in the Board of Supervisors’ Chambers at some point in the near future, for the public to witness. The election for District Attorney will be held next June.

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