Archive for the ‘Courts’ Category

Report: FBI arrests Antioch, Pittsburg cops under investigation in Thursday morning raids

Thursday, August 17th, 2023

For possible “crimes of moral turpitude” following federal grand jury indictment; APOA, Mayor Thorpe issue statements, he calls it “a dark day in our city’s history”; task force set up in parking lot of John Muir Health Brentwood Outpatient Center

By Allen D. Payton

According to an exclusive report by the Mercury News, the Antioch and Pittsburg police officers were arrested by the FBI during raids, Thursday morning, August, 17, 2023. The officers have been under investigation by both the FBI and Contra Costa DA’s Office since early 2022. That followed an indictment issued by the Federal Grand Jury in San Francisco on Wednesday. The details of the indictment have yet to be revealed but are expected to during a press conference scheduled for 3:30 p.m. today.

FBI task force drew a map of homes in the John Muir Health – Brentwood parking lot in preparation for their raids on Thursday, Aug. 17, 2023. Source chose to remain anonymous

Task Force Set Up at John Muir Health in Brentwood

According to a source who chose to remain anonymous, the FBI task force set up in the parking lot of John Muir Health’s Brentwood Outpatient Center on Balfour Road near Highway 4. There were about 20 cars carrying agents, two riot vehicles, and a Life Flight helicopter on stand-by.

As previously reported, the investigation was for alleged “crimes of moral turpitude” defined as “conduct that shocks the public conscience or, which does not fall within the moral standards held by the community.”

The names of the officers and details of their alleged crimes were inadvertently revealed in a report issued by the DA’s Office, earlier this year, that was not properly redacted.

The officers are being investigated “for violations of the following federal offenses; Title 21, United States Code, Sections 841(A), distribution, and possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance; Section 843(b) illegal use of the mail in furtherance of narcotic trafficking; Title 18, USC, 1503 Obstruction of Justice; Section 846, attempt and conspiracy to commit the foregoing offenses; Section 241, Conspiracy for two or more persons to agree to injure, threaten, or intimidate a person in the United States in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege; and Section 242, a crime for a person acting under color of any law to willfully deprive a person of a right or privilege protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States. The CCCDAO is investigating these officers for assault under the color of authority, bribery, embezzlement, possession of controlled substances (steroids) for sale, knowing or offering any false or forged instruments, possession, and sales of assault weapons, and attempt and conspiracy to commit the foregoing offenses. The CCCDAO is also reviewing whether any of the above listed individuals have violated Penal Code (PC) section 745, the Racial Justice Act, which prohibits the use of race, ethnicity, or national origin by a law enforcement officer in pursuit of a conviction or sentence.”

The names of the officers under investigation by the FBI and DA revealed in the improperly redacted report were included in the following information:

“On 03/22/2022, the Honorable Presiding Judge Rebecca C. Hardie, Judge of the Superior Court of California, Contra Costa County, signed a search warrant under seal authored by CCCDAO Senior Inspector Larry J. Wallace for the seizure and search of the following cellular telephones: Pittsburg Police Officer Willie Glasper, (redacted phone number); Pittsburg Police Officer Brauli Rodriguez Jalapa, (redacted phone number); Pittsburg Police Officer Ernesto Juan Mejia-Orozco, (redacted phone number); Pittsburg Police Officer James Robert Anderson, (redacted phone number); Antioch Police Officer Ben C. Padilla, (redacted phone number); Antioch Police Officer Eric Rombough, (redacted phone number); Antioch Police Officer Devon Wenger, (redacted phone number); and Antioch Police Officer Andrea Rodriguez, (redacted phone number). The search warrants and affidavits were signed under seal and filed with the Martinez Superior Court.

On 03/22/22, the Honorable Laurel Beeler, United States Magistrate, Northern District of California, signed a federal search warrant under seal authored by FBI Special Agent (SA) Thuy Zoback for the seizure of the following cellular telephones: Pittsburg Police Officer Armando Montalvo; Pittsburg Police Officer Patrick Berhan; (now former) Antioch Police Officer Timothy Manly Williams; Antioch Police Officer Morteza Amiri, Antioch Police Officer Nicholas Shipilov; Antioch Police Officer Eric Rombough; Antioch Police Officer Daniel Harris; and Antioch Police Officer Calvin Prieto. The purpose of the search warrants were to seize electronic communications; such as, but not limited to the following: records and communications indicating the possession, use, purchase, sale, distribution, transfer, theft, and/or concealment of controlled substances, including books, receipts, notes, ledgers, pay and owe sheets, correspondence, records noting price, quantity, date and times when controlled substances were purchased, possessed, transferred, distributed, sold or concealed.

On 03/23/2022, sworn law enforcement members of the CCCDAO and the FBI retrieved the above listed cellular telephones from the above listed sworn law enforcement members of the Pittsburg and Antioch Police Departments. Law enforcement members from the CCCDAO and the FBI downloaded/extracted electronic cellular data communications from the above listed cellular telephones. A thorough review of the electronic cellular data communications took place for the past year.”

However, which officers were arrested Thursday morning has not yet been confirmed. The Antioch officers have been on paid administrative leave since the beginning of the investigation.

Antioch Police Officers Association Issues Statement

The Antioch Police Officers APOA issued a brief statement posted on their Facebook page Thursday morning. It reads, “The APOA has learned that several of our current and former members have been indicted by the FBI at the culmination of their investigation into members of the Antioch and Pittsburg Police Departments. We are saddened to learn of what has happened and look forward to the legal process playing itself out. We are committed to still providing quality service to the citizens of Antioch and also providing support for our members who are still working through this difficult time.

APOA Media Team”

Mayor Thorpe Says It’s “A Dark Day”

In a post on his campaign website, Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe issued the following statement about the matter:

“Today is a dark day in our city’s history, as people trusted to uphold the law, allegedly breached that trust and were arrested by the FBI.

As our city absorbs this tragic news, we must come together as one. Today’s actions are the beginning of the end of a long and arduous process.

To those that have accused me and others of being anti-police for seeking to reform the Antioch Police Department, today’s arrests are demonstrative of the issues that have plagued the Antioch Police Department for decades.

Seeking to reform the Antioch Police Department is not anti-police, it is pro our residents, and pro officers that have served and continue to serve with honor.’

-Office of the Mayor”

Efforts to reach APOA’s attorney, Mike Rains, for comment were unsuccessful prior to publication time. Please check back later for any updates to this report.

Federal lawsuit filed against six Antioch Police officers in racist text scandal, three chiefs, City

Thursday, April 20th, 2023

Seeks monetary damages, department practice and policy changes, court monitoring; labels officers’ actions a “conspiracy”

By Allen D. Payton

Oakland civil rights attorney John Burris and associates filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for Northern California on Wednesday, April 19, 2023, against five current Antioch Police officers and one former officer, for their racist and other offensive texts and mistreatment of citizens, plus, three current and past police chiefs, the City of Antioch and Does 1-100. (See related articles here and here)

The texts sent and received by multiple officers on their personal cell phones mentioned at least one Antioch resident, as well as suspects in crimes being investigated by some of the officers.

The suit includes defendants Sgt. Josh Evans, Officers Eric Rombough, Morteza Amiri, Scott Duggar, John Ramirez and Timothy Manly Williams, who left the department in 2021. The lawsuit also includes former Police Chief Tammany Brooks who left in October 2021, former Interim Police Chief and current Captain Tony Morefield, and current Chief Steve Ford, in spite of the fact he didn’t start as interim chief until late April 2022, at the end of the timeframe of the texts between December 2019 and April 2022. Ford was given his permanent position on October 23, 2022. Morefield served as interim chief from Oct. 10, 2021 through April 2022.

The plaintiffs include Antioch resident Shagoofa Khan, the 2017 Youth of the Year who was one of the lead protesters in the city in 2020, was arrested a few times including once for felony arson in January 2021 and at Brooks’ farewell party later that year, and was the subject of one of the vile texts; Adam Carpenter, Joshua Butler, Trent Allen, who is one of the suspects in the murder case that resulted in the release of the texts; plus, Diego Zavala, the son of Guadalupe Zavala, who was unarmed when he was shot and killed by police in 2021 after a seven-hour stand-off with police. (Their last name is listed as Savala in the lawsuit).

The suit describes what occurred between the named Antioch Police officers and the plaintiffs as a “conspiracy and/or conspiracies” and claims they were “the failure and/or refusal of Defendants Brooks, Morefield, Ford and Evans…to prevent or aid in preventing” them from occurring. The suit further claims the four department leaders “maintained customs, policies, and/or practices which encouraged, authorized, condoned, ratified, failed to prevent, and/or failed to aid in the prevention of wrongs conspired to be done by” the named officers.

The suit seeks multiple forms of damages including “past, present and/or future wage loss, income and support, medical expenses”; special damages, any and all permissible statutory damages, and attorneys’ fees. The lawsuit, Case #4:23-cv-01895-TSH, from the firm of Burris, Nissenbaum, Curry and Lacy also seeks department policy and practice changes and Court Monitoring. Burris previously represented the family of Angelo Quinto who died in 2021 in the hospital while not in police custody, three days after an interaction with Antioch Police who were called to their home to stop him from attacking them.

According to Antioch Police Officers’ Association attorney Mike Raines the officers don’t have to obtain their own legal counsel as they are entitled to representation by the City Attorney or a designated, outside law firm.

Contra Costa Public Defender calls on DA to pause all criminal filings, prosecutions over Antioch cops’ racist texts

Wednesday, April 12th, 2023

Report released to defense on attorneys on Monday, Mercury News obtained, reported on it; DA’s office redacting report before releasing to other media

By Allen D. Payton

Following the release to defense attorneys on Monday, April 10, 2023, of the 21-page report of racist and offensive texts by Antioch Police Officers, which was obtained and reported on by the Mercury News on Tuesday, Contra Costa Public Defender Ellen McDonnell issued a statement calling on D.A. Diana Becton to pause all criminal filings and current prosecutions involving the department.

“I have reviewed these text messages, they are abhorrent and reprehensible. They reveal an entrenched culture of hatred, racism, homophobia, misogyny, and violence throughout the Antioch Police Department,” McDonnell wrote, “The racist, homophobic, and violent behavior of these officers will impact thousands and thousands of criminal cases including pending cases and past convictions related to the Antioch Police Department.  I have reached out to District Attorney Becton and asked that she immediately pause all criminal filings and current prosecutions involving the Antioch Police Department.  I have also requested that her office evaluate pending Antioch cases for immediate dismissal, and that they begin a comprehensive review of the many thousands of Antioch Police Department related convictions to determine which cases should be dismissed.”

“These racist text messages and the continued disclosures regarding the Antioch Police Department expose a pervasive and troubling culture which should undermine any reliance on the credibility of officers from the force,” she continued. “These text messages clearly constitute textbook violations of the California Racial Justice Act. Our office will initiate a widespread review of all cases involving the Antioch Police Department and will immediately begin seeking justice for those targeted by these officers.”

The unredacted text messages were released to the Times by attorneys for the defendants in the murder case currently being adjudicated in Contra Costa Superior Court, but not to other media. According to Contra Costa DA’s Office PIO Ted Asregadoo they will be released to the media once they’ve been redacted.

“Per Judge Clare Maier’s order on Friday, we did disclose the investigative reports in the Pugh, Windom, et al case. These are unredacted reports and they were delivered on Monday,” he wrote. “Judge Maeir’s order also specified that redacted reports could be released. We are in the process of redacting the information in the reports ordered by the judge and will notify the press when those reports are available and how to obtain them.”

Judge rules Antioch Police officers’ racist texts will be disclosed to defense in felony court case

Friday, April 7th, 2023

“contain unambiguously and historically racist speech directed toward the suspects the officers were investigating.” – DA Diana Becton

By Allen D. Payton

Following a Friday, April 7th ruling by Contra Costa Superior Court Judge Clare M. Maier during a felony court case involving Antioch Police officers, racist texts exchanged by the officers and directed toward the suspects will be disclosed to the defense, District Attorney Diana Becton announced. Several Antioch officers are currently on paid leave and under investigation for alleged racist and other offensive texts, in addition to the remaining seven out of eight officers that have been on paid leave and under investigation by the FBI and DA’s Office since March 2022. One of the eight Antioch officers quit the force. (See related articles here and here)

Becton shared that the judge “urged caution in the distribution of the language and images contained in the texts as they can spark more hatred toward Blacks and Latinos.”

Statement by DA Diana Becton on Disclosure of Racist Texts in Felony Case

Today, Contra Costa Superior Court Judge Clare Maier ruled on the disclosure of information that centers on racist text messages exchanged by Antioch Police officers.

For over a year, the FBI and the Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office have engaged in a joint federal and state criminal investigation of sworn law enforcement officers from the Antioch Police Department and Pittsburg Police Department. The broad range of offenses under investigation involve crimes of moral turpitude.

Due to the sensitivity and scope of the investigation, a court procedure was established to balance the integrity of the criminal investigation with the disclosure of exculpatory information (i.e., evidence that is beneficial to a defendant).

In accordance with legal precedent, the Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office has been scrupulous in maintaining the balance as the court constructed.

Recently, additional information has come to light in which police misconduct directly overlaps and impacts a charged felony case.

The joint investigation with the FBI has revealed that Antioch Police officers exchanged text messages which contain unambiguously and historically racist speech directed toward the suspects the officers were investigating.

The racial animus expressed by officers in the recovered text messages trigger additional statutory concerns under the Racial Justice Act.

In seeking further direction from the court, the DA’s Office and the defense appeared in front of Judge Maier on April 4th to present information detailing the overlap of the officers’ misconduct and a charged felony case.

In her ruling today, Judge Maier said that the offensive texts in the two investigative reports shall be disclosed to the defense in the charged felony case. She added, the reports will be redacted to shield cell phone numbers and urged caution in the distribution of the language and images contained in the texts as they can spark more hatred toward Blacks and Latinos.

The integrity of the joint investigation and legal requirements for the disclosure of exculpatory evidence is of paramount importance to the District Attorney’s Office. Our office will continue to work tirelessly to ensure public trust and public safety for the residents of Contra Costa County.

Diana Becton

District Attorney, Contra Costa County

Contra Costa Civil Grand Jury application deadline is Friday, March 24

Thursday, March 23rd, 2023

The Contra Costa County Superior Court is accepting applications for jurors to serve on our 2023-2024 Civil Grand Jury. The application deadline is March 24, 2023. Application for Grand Jury

Contra Costa County’s Grand Jury consists of 19 citizens. A new Grand Jury is impaneled each year. Grand Jurors are officers of the court, and function as an independent body under the guidance of a Superior Court judge.

Every year, in each of California’s 58 counties, a group of ordinary citizens takes an oath to serve as grand jurors. Its function is to investigate the operations of the various officers, departments and agencies of local government. Each Civil Grand Jury determines which officers, departments and agencies it will investigate during its term of office.

Apart from the investigations mandated by the California Penal Code, each county’s Grand Jury decides what it will investigate. Investigations may be initiated in response to letters from citizens, newspaper articles and personal knowledge.

For more information about the Contra Costa County Civil Grand Jury visit Civil Grand Jury: Contra Costa Superior Court ( and Civil Grand Jury – jury_service (


Contra Costa Superior Court announces escheatment of unclaimed funds

Saturday, February 4th, 2023

By Matt J. Malone, Public Information Officer, Superior Court of California, County of Contra Costa

Per Government Code Section 68084.1, the Court intends to escheat the sum of $201,665.09 in the Court’s Operations Fund that has remained unclaimed for a period exceeding three years. For more information on the unclaimed funds, please visit the Court’s website at:

The Court has published a legal notice in the East Bay Times and has sent letters to potential owners of these funds. If you believe that you are entitled to any of the funds, you must complete and submit a Claim Affirmation Form and Claim for Reimbursement. These forms and instructions are available at the above hyperlink. Claim forms must be postmarked no later than March 24, 2023.

COVID spike causes jury selection in Contra Costa Superior Courts suspended until Jan. 14

Tuesday, December 28th, 2021

Cases in which a jury has already been empaneled and the trial underway, will proceed as previously scheduled.

By Allen Payton

In response to concerns of juries being cancelled as of Monday, Dec. 27, a spokesperson for the Contra Costa Superior Court provided the following explanation:

“The Court remains open and fully operational with one exception. The Court has suspended jury selection/panels out of an abundance of caution with the increased infection rate in the County having risen 165%.  This will only impact any case in which voir dire is currently underway or in cases set to begin between now and January 14th. Cases in which a jury has already been empaneled and the trial underway, shall proceed as previously scheduled.

This is a very disappointing development as the Court was making good progress in addressing the backlog of cases.

That said, the risk of exposure and infection for court employees and court users (including defendants detained in county jail) is too great for the time being in light of the new COVID-19 variant and significant rise in infection rates in Contra Costa County.

All other services remain open to the public and are functioning.”