Archive for the ‘District Attorney’ Category

Contra Costa voters re-elect Sheriff Livingston, DA Becton, Assessor Kramer

Wednesday, June 8th, 2022

Results for the Contra Costa DA and Sheriff’s races as of early Wednesday, June 8, 2022, showing Becton and Livingston winning. Source: CoCoVote.us

One billionaire Soros-backed progressive DA wins, two other progressive DA’s lose in the state Tuesday night; in County Clerk’s race it’s Connelly vs. Gordon; Pleasant Hill Councilman Carlson, BART Director Allen leading in 4th Supe District race; only 18% turnout; ballots mailed by election day can still be received until next Tuesday

Sheriff Livingston checks the voting results at the DSA Election Night Watch Party Tuesday, June 7, 2022. Photo: Allen D. Payton

By Allen D. Payton

Following an election season filled with attacks, accusations and over $1 million spent in the Contra Costa District Attorney’s race, the incumbents, Sheriff David Livingston and DA Diana Becton, along with County Assessor Gus Kramer were each re-elected by wide margins, Tuesday night. They were the only countywide incumbents facing challengers, this year in an election that only saw a 17.95% voter turnout, so far. Incumbent county Treasurer-Tax Collector Russell Watts, Auditor-Controller Robert Campbell and County Superintendent of Schools Lynn Mackey were re-elected without facing opposition.

In the only other contested countywide race, for County Clerk-Recorder, Kristin Connelly will face former Community College Board Trustee Vicki Gordon in a November run-off. In the races for county supervisor, District 1 incumbent, John Gioia was re-elected easily beating his opponent, Hulan Barnett, Jr. 15,018 votes to 2,800, and in District 4, Pleasant Hill Councilman Ken Carlson who and BART Board Director Debora Allen are leading. Allen was trailing Concord Councilwoman Carlyn Obringer by 211 votes until late in the evening, when she pulled into second place by 389 votes. Carlson is leading Allen by 569 votes. The top two candidates will face off in the November run-off.

Sheriff Livingston and Deputy District Attorney Mary Knox with former Martinez Councilman Mike Menesini and another supporter at the DSA Election Night Watch Party, Tuesday, June 7, 2022. Photo: Allen D. Payton

When reached for comment Allen said, “I’m not declaring victory at this point because there are still ballots to count.”

In the biggest battle in the county, Becton was re-elected to her second, full, four-year term beating Deputy District Attorney Mary Knox, a 37-year prosecutor, by 56% to 44% with 63,147 votes against 49,599 for Knox. Becton was the beneficiary of $1 million spent by an independent expenditure committee campaign supporting her and opposing Knox, with the majority of funds contributed by out-of-state billionaire George Soros. (See related articles here and here)

The same night a Soros-backed, progressive district attorney was re-elected in Contra Costa, another progressive D.A. in San Francisco, Chesa Boudin was recalled by voters in that city and county who had enough with his policies. Becton and Boudin have been part of the Prosecutors Alliance of California, along with L.A. County D.A. George Gascon who is also facing a possible recall, and San Joaquin County D.A. Tori Verber Salazar, who was losing for re-election according to the San Joaquin County Registrar of Voters website as of Wednesday.

In the other hard fought countywide race, Livingston was re-elected to his fourth term as sheriff beating Richmond Police Officer Ben Therriault by an even wider margin, 61.2% to 38.8% with 67,906 votes to 43,125 for the challenger.

Attempts to reach Livingston and Becton for comment about their victories were unsuccessful prior to publication time.

County Assessor Kramer eased to another victory for his eighth term, beating his only opponent Floy Andrews by 57.6% to 42.4% with 63,164 votes to 46,456 for the challenger.

When reached for comment Kramer said, “I am on bended knee thanking the voters for seeing through the garbage in the East Bay Times, having faith in me and re-electing me for another four years. The citizens have spoken, the people for whom I serve. This is not a victory for me but for the property owners in the county.”

Contra Costa County Assessor Gus Kramer celebrates his re-election with supporters at the DSA Election Night Watch Party, Tuesday, June 7, 2022. Photo: Allen D. Payton

Livingston, Knox and Kramer attended the Election Night Watch Party at the Deputy Sheriffs’ Association Hall in Martinez, waiting for the updates and speaking with their supporters.

In the Clerk-Recorder’s race, Connelly is in first place with 34,049 votes, Gordon is in second with 24,152 votes and is ahead of Pinole Councilman Devin Murphy by 3,781 votes.

Asked for a comment on the election results Gordon said, “The first thing I want to say is to thank all my supporters, people who donated and walked. I want to thank everyone for their support, it was grassroots effort. My husband and family were also amazing.”

“I am honored to move on to November,” she added.

The countywide Measure G which continues the $2 per car fee to pay for picking up abandoned vehicles and required a two-thirds vote is passing with 68.7% of the vote, with 79,126 in favor to 35,978 opposed.

The only other measure on the ballot was in Martinez. Measure F, also requiring a two-thirds vote to pass, is barely failing with 65.9%. If passed, the measure would add a $79 annual parcel tax for the next 30 years to preserve open space and a ridgeline, allowing the City of Martinez to purchase the 297-acre Alhambra Highlands.

The Contra Costa Elections Division can still receive ballots that were mailed by Tuesday for up to seven days after the election, according to executive secretary, Melissa Hickok, who said she read it straight from the Secretary of State’s website. They have up to 28 days to certify the election.

This year, voters who went to the polls didn’t put their own ballots into the counting machines, as has been done in the past.

“Contra Costa County has returned to a central count, instead of having hundreds of counters at all the polling places, we bring all the ballots back and run them through the high-speed scanners at the Elections Office,” Hickok explained.

That resulted in updates of the results on election night to take longer than in the past.

The next update is expected this Friday, June 10 at 5:00 p.m. For more information visit CoCoVote.us.

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Billionaire Soros, special interests dump $1 million into Contra Costa DA’s race to support Becton, defeat Knox

Tuesday, May 31st, 2022

From pages 1 and 3 of the CA Justice & Public Safety PAC 496 report dated May 28, 2022, showing the $489,200 spent against Knox and $652,000 contributed by Soros. Source: Netfile.com

Including $510,000 more in attack ads against Knox; Soros contributes $652,000

“This money will not drown out the voices of the hundreds of volunteers and thousands of local donors who have worked tirelessly side-by-side with me over the past 11 months to spread our campaign’s message…” – Deputy D.A. Mary Knox

By Allen D. Payton

The Washington, D.C.-based PAC funded by billionaire George Soros has received just over $1 million to help re-elect incumbent Contra Costa D.A. Diana Becton and defeat her challenger, Deputy D.A. Mary Knox. According to two campaign finance reports on Netfile.com submitted by the California Justice & Public Safety PAC date May 28, Soros contributed $652,000, the Smart Justice California Action Fund contributed $300,000 and M. Quinn Delaney of Piedmont contributed $50,000.

According to their website, Smart Justice California is “an alliance of donors and funders…helping to change the belief that prosecutors must be incarceration-driven by engaging voters and establishing a statewide candidate pipeline of justice reform champions.”

The report lists Delaney as retired. But according to the organization’s website, she “is the Founder and Board Chair of Akonadi Foundation, which supports the development of powerful social change movements to eliminate structural racism and create a racially just society. The Foundation funds primarily in Oakland with a focus on ending the criminalization of people of color.”

6/2/22 UPDATE & CORRECTION: That brings the total received by the PAC to $1,002,000 in the race, so far. (See related article)

It was previously reported that the $1 million in contributions was in addition to over $400,000 previously spent according to the PAC’s Form 496 reports dated May 14 for a total of more than $1.4 million in contributions. However, according to Alex Navarro-Mckay of New York-based Berlin Rosen campaigns said, “when the $400,000 was spent the PAC was incurring liabilities.” Asked when the ads started running, he responded, “right around there. May 13 or 14.”

That means the PAC spent over $400,000 on negative, digital attack ads against Knox before the funds were received on May 17, 26 and 27. Most media companies require political campaigns to pay in advance.

Of the latest amount received, almost $500,000 was spent on negative attack ads against Knox and another $10,050 was spent for digital ads against her. The PAC only spent $34,900 on digital ads to support Becton.

In response to those contributions and expenditures to defeat her, Knox released the following statement:

“An out-of-state billionaire along with special interest groups have now dropped an unprecedented $1M to defeat my campaign and influence voters for District Attorney in this local election.  Contra Costa voters will determine the outcome of this election and the future of public safety in Contra Costa County. This money will not drown out the voices of the hundreds of volunteers and thousands of local donors who have worked tirelessly side-by-side with me over the past 11 months to spread our campaign’s message,” said. “I have served this community for 37 years as a prosecutor. The bottom line is this, people in our community want to feel safe in their neighborhoods. Every day I talk to voters who are frustrated with D.A. Becton and want to see their District Attorney focused on public safety and crime reduction.”

As previously reported, Becton was asked if it is good to have so much out-of-county and out-of-state funds spent to influence an election in Contra Costa County, but she did not respond. Becton was also the beneficiary of spending by Soros during her first election campaign in 2018. (See related article)

Knox has served as a prosecutor in the Contra Costa District Attorney’s office for 37 years and has extensive trial experience. Knox has earned the endorsement of every law enforcement agency in the County, as well as state and local organizations such as the California Correctional Peace Officers Association, PORAC, the California Narcotics Officers Association and the California Gang Investigators Association. Mary has advanced social justice while preventing crime in Contra Costa County.  She brought anti-bias training to the District Attorney’s Office and has fought to end discrimination against women in the Contra Costa County’s District Attorney’s Office.

Knox and Becton are the only candidates running for election as District Attorney.  Since this election will be won by a simple majority, the election of the next District Attorney of Contra Costa County will be determined by the votes cast on June 7, 2022.

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DA candidate Knox challenged Becton’s failure to act on Antioch mayor’s DUI one day before press release issued about April 1 charges

Tuesday, May 24th, 2022

Deputy D.A. Mary Knox, Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe and D.A. Diana Becton.

Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe has endorsed D.A. Diana Becton in her re-election campaign; she contributed to his anti-recall campaign

Becton’s campaign shoots back accusing Knox of asking for leniency on friend’s 2017 DUI charges; Knox’s campaign responds to accusation

By Allen D. Payton

On May 19, the Mary Knox for District Attorney campaign released a statement calling for action from District Attorney Diana Becton after more than 60 days had passed with no action on a DUI case involving a Becton campaign endorser, Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe. The Herald was not made aware of Knox’s campaign press release until after receiving the press release from the DA’s office on Friday, May 20 announcing charges had been filed against Thorpe on April 1. (See related article)

In addition, on May 8 a Public Records Act request was submitted by Walnut Creek resident Scott Buckley asking for “details related to the recent DUI arrest of Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe and any correspondence details related to this case or prosecution of the case.” In a May 17 response to Buckley, Deputy District Attorney Sophea Nop denied the request for documents claiming they’re exempt, but also wrote, “Additionally, I have determined that there are no documents in either the physical or electronic file which constitutes correspondence between Lamar Thorpe and the District Attorney’s Office regarding this case.”

CCDA response to Buckley PRA. Source: Knox campaign (redacted by the Herald)

The Knox press release reads as follows:

“The Contra Costa Herald previously reported that District Attorney Diana Becton held a private meeting with Mayor Thorpe just three days following the incident.

‘It has now been more than 60 days since it was reported that Mayor Lamar Thorpe was arrested for a DUI and yet we have seen no action come from the D.A.’s office,’ said Jamie Patton, spokeswoman for Deputy District Attorney Mary Knox, candidate for District Attorney, on Thursday, May 19. ‘Contra Costa residents deserve safety from drivers who recklessly drive under the influence of alcohol. Everyone wants to see their District Attorney act with integrity and fairness, regardless of a person’s position of power or influence, yet D.A. Diana Becton met with Lamar Thorpe personally following the incident and we continue to see no action to prosecute. We believe D.A. Diana Becton must address this glaring dereliction of duty and take action on this rapidly-aging case.’

Knox has served as a Prosecutor in the Contra Costa District Attorney’s office for 37 years and has extensive trial experience. Knox has earned the endorsement of every law enforcement agency in the County, as well as state and local organizations such as the California Correctional Peace Officers Association, PORAC, the California Narcotics Officers Association and the California Gang Investigators Association. Mary has advanced social justice while preventing crime in Contra Costa County.  She brought anti-bias training to the District Attorney’s Office and has fought to end discrimination against women in the Contra Costa County’s District Attorney’s Office.

Mary Knox and the incumbent are the only candidates running for election as District Attorney.  Since this election will be won by a simple majority, the election of the next District Attorney of Contra Costa County will be determined by the votes cast on June 7, 2022.

March 2022: Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe Was Arrested For Driving Under The Influence. “On Saturday, Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe confirmed in a video that he was arrested by the California Highway Patrol for a DUI. CHP later released a statement confirming the incident just before 11:00 am.” [East County Today, 3/19/22]

Becton Had “Private Meeting” With Thorpe Three Days After His Arrest, As District Attorney’s Office Was Investigating Incident. “Three days after Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe was arrested for DUI and while the Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office was investigating the incident, on Tuesday, March 22, 2022, he held a private meeting with D.A. Diana Becton in her office in Martinez, according to reports of what was seen on her visitor sign-in log. Neither Becton, her staff nor Thorpe will say what the meeting was about or if anyone else, such as the city attorney or interim city manager, was in the room with them.” [Contra Costa Herald, 3/30/22]

Thorpe Later Confirmed He Had Met With Becton, Said She Had Requested “Cooperation In The Investigation.” “During a press conference, Wednesday morning, April 4, 2022 on Antioch Police Department staffing, hiring incentives and the investigation of officers by the FBI and Contra Costa D.A.’s office, Mayor Lamar Thorpe confirmed what had been previously reported, of a private meeting that he had with Contra Costa District Attorney Diana Becton on Tuesday, March 22, the day before the investigation occurred. He said Interim Antioch City Manager Con Johnson was also in attendance. The meeting was held just three days following Thorpe’s arrest for DUI and while he was under investigation by her department… Thorpe said the meeting was held by Becton to request his and Johnson’s cooperation in the investigation and they were to ‘keep confidentiality as this was an ongoing investigation’.” [Contra Costa Herald, 4/4/22]

As of May 2022, a search of Contra Costa County’s online case portal did not show any pending cases involving Thorpe. [cc-courts.org]

We mailed a criminal records search request regarding Thorpe to the Contra Costa County Superior court on May 11, 2022 and are awaiting a response.

Thorpe is listed as a campaign endorser on Becton’s campaign website.”

——————-

Source: Becton campaign.

Becton’s Campaign Manager Fires Back at Knox

The following was posted on Becton’s campaign Facebook page on Saturday, May 21 about Knox, in 2017, asking for leniency for a friend who was arrested for DUI:

“An important message from DA Becton’s Campaign Manager, Champagne Brown:

In her latest baseless attack against District Attorney Becton, Mary Knox claims to want accountability for ‘drivers who drive recklessly under the influence of alcohol.’ And yet, in 2017, Knox pled with a judge for leniency—and no accountability—for a colleague from the DA’s Office who drove under the influence of alcohol, crashing head on into another car and critically injuring the driver.

That person was George Driscoll, now the manager of the independent expenditure that has funneled nearly $250,000 from police associations to elect Mary Knox.

Source: Becton campaign.

DUI is the most common offense among California police officers (eastbaytimes.com)

Despite Knox’s letter to the judge pleading for leniency, George Driscoll was nevertheless convicted of a felony and removed from his duties as a law enforcement officer.

This is yet another example of Mary Knox’s hypocrisy and corruption—she is for ‘law and order,’ except when it comes to her well-connected friends and donors.

Source: Becton campaign

She cannot be trusted to hold people she owes—including police associations—accountable.

Contra Costa County deserves a District Attorney who is courageous enough to ensure the justice system works for everyone, not just the well connected.”

Knox Campaign Responds

In response to the accusation from Becton’s campaign, Knox’s campaign spokeswoman Upton wrote, “Ms. Becton’s latest attack on Mary Knox once again demonstrates her failure to acknowledge her conflict of interest inherent in the prosecution of Mayor Lamar Thorpe.  Mayor Thorpe has endorsed Ms. Becton’s political campaign, donated to Mayor Thorpe’s effort to stave off the recall campaign launched against him and met with Mayor Thorpe in her office just days after he was arrested, Ms. Becton should have recused herself from this prosecution following Mayor Thorpe’s arrest.

Mary Knox acted ethically in writing a letter to the judge presiding over the sentencing of a case that qualified for Veterans Court in Lassen County. A judge is required by law to consider whether a veteran’s military service contributed to the commission of the criminal offense, such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, as well as standard factors in mitigation in sentencing. In her letter, Ms. Knox described for the judge this veteran’s service to his country that resulted in awards, including a Bronze Star for his service in Iraq, by President Obama and President Bush in a service career that spanned three decades with tremendous personal sacrifice.  Mary Knox properly provided the sentencing judge with information that he was required by law to consider in sentencing.”

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Contra Costa DA candidate Knox issues statement on out-of-state funds from billionaire George Soros supporting incumbent, again

Monday, May 23rd, 2022

The first Form 496 finance report by California Justice & Public Safety PAC submitted on May 14, 2022, showing over $200,000 in support for Diana Becton. Source: Netfile.com

D.C.-based California Justice & Public Safety PAC with major funding from Soros has reported more than $400,000 in spending to influence voters in the 2022 Contra Costa DA Race

Knox also benefits from out-of-county funds, but most are from within Contra Costa including $170,000 from Deputy Sheriff’s Association PAC

George Soros at the 47th Munich Security Conference 2011 crop (link) by Harald Dettenborn is licensed by creativecommons.org 3.0 de (link)Source: InfluenceWatch.org

By Allen D. Payton

Over $400,000 has been spent by the California Justice & Public Safety Political Action Committee based in Washington, D.C. to support Contra Costa County District Attorney Diana Becton’s re-election campaign. According to a Form 496 report filed on May 14 by the committee on the Netfile.com website, $206,700 in expenditures were made for “Digital Advertisement Production Supporting Diana Becton”. An additional $201,387.03 was spent by the independent expenditure committee according to another Form 496 report filed on May 14 on “Digital Advertisement Production Opposing Mary Knox”.  California Justice & Public Safety PAC Form 496 051422 #1   California Justice & Public Safety PAC Form 496 051422 #2

According to influencewatch.org, “California Justice & Public Safety PAC is a left-of-center PAC that was created in 2018 to fund the campaigns of progressive Democratic candidates for district attorney in several cities in California. The organization is the California branch of the vast ‘Safety and Justice’ network, a project of left-leaning billionaire George Soros that used a network of similarly named state-level PACs to finance the campaigns of progressive Democratic candidates for district attorney in more than a dozen of America’s cities.”

Contra Costa District Attorney Diana Becton from her 2022 re-election campaign website.

According to the Justice & Public Safety PAC website, the Soros-backed effort has been “winning races in 14 states over the last 6 years.” Also according to influencewatch.org, “Justice and Public Safety PAC is a left-of-center PAC that focuses on supporting the campaigns of progressive district attorneys in the Commonwealth of Virginia. [1] The PAC receives most of its funding from left-leaning billionaire George Soros and Democracy PAC, which also receives much of its funding from Soros. [2] It is one of several similarly-named PACs that receive substantial funding from Soros and contribute to the campaigns of progressive district attorneys across the U.S.”[3]

They include Becton both during her 2018 campaign, and now, this year’s. The progressive Democrat DA’s also include San Francisco’s Chesa Boudin and Los Angeles County’s George Gascon, both of whom are facing possible recalls. Becton formed a statewide organization with them and San Joaquin County DA Tori Verber Salazar, entitled Prosecutors Alliance of California.

 

Pages 1 and 2 of the second Form 496 finance report by California Justice & Public Safety PAC submitted on May 14, 2022, showing over $200,000 opposing Mary Knox. Source: Netfile.com

Knox’s Campaign Also Benefits from Out-of-County PAC Funds, But Most From Within Contra Costa

Knox’s campaign was also the beneficiary of out-of-county political action committee funds, including $10,000 from the Oakland Police Officer’s Association PAC on May 5. According to the Netfile.com website a Form 496 was filed by the Contra Costans for Progress and Justice, a coalition of business, labor and people that care about public safety in support of Mary Knox for District Attorney 2022 showing $50,096 was spent on a “Mailer (Estimated Costs)” and showing the “Cumulative to date total $70,684.75” which the Oakland POA’s PAC helped pay for. Contra Costans for Progress & Justice PAC Form 496 050322  Contra Costans for Progress & Justice PAC Form 496 050522 Contra Costans for Progress & Justice PAC Form 496 051922

Contra Costans for Progress & Justice PAC Form 496 p.3 submitted May 3, 20222 showing $130,000 in contributions to support Mary Knox’s campaign. Source: Netfile.com

However, according to a separate Form 496 report filed on May 3 by the independent expenditure committee most of their funds spent were from within Contra Costa County, including $170,000 from the Contra Costa County Deputy Sheriff’s Association Independent Expenditure PAC, $7,500 from Alves Ranch Property Holdings, LLC in Alamo, $10,000 from the Concord Police Association PAC, $3,000 from the Brentwood Police Officers Association PAC and $2,500 from the Walnut Creek Police Association PAC (WCPA PAC). Contributions of $500 each were received from the Moraga and Pleasant Hill Police Officers Associations PACS. A total of $3,600 in contributions included in that report were received from sources outside of the county. The report shows $20,588.75 was spent on digital ads to support Knox’s campaign.

Contra Costans for Progress & Justice PAC Form 496 p.2 submitted May 3, 20222 showing $50,000 in contributions to support Mary Knox’s campaign. Source: Netfile.com

The most recent Form 496 report filed on May 19 by the Contra Costans for Progress and Justice committee shows an additional $20,000 contribution from the Contra Costa Deputy Sheriff’s Association PAC, $20,000 from the Peace Officers Research Association of California PAC (PORAC PAC) Small Contributor Committee based in Sacramento and an additional $2,500 from two Contra Costa County residents. The report also shows an additional $29,316 was spent on a mailer and shows cumulative to date total expenditures of $100,000.70.

Questions for Becton Go Unanswered

Becton was asked for comment about the spending by the PAC and funds from Soros via email Friday morning, May 20. She was also asked if it is good to have so much out-of-county and out-of-state funds spent to influence an election in Contra Costa County. Becton did not respond.

Knox Issues Statement

Knox’s campaign issued the following this past week:

In light of recently reported contributions from an out-of-state PAC funded by George Soros, Mary Knox, candidate for Contra Costa District Attorney released the following statement:

“An out-of-state billionaire is now spending hundreds of thousands of dollars in an attempt to influence voters and drown out the voices of local donors in the District Attorney’s race,” said Deputy District Attorney Knox. “Our grassroots campaign has deeply resonated with Contra Costa voters who want to see our DA focused on restoring safety and reducing crime. It’s clear that my campaign has made an impact that is now

driving out-of-state spending in this race. I remain focused on ensuring our message reaches voters across our county.”

Knox has served as a prosecutor in the Contra Costa District Attorney’s office for 37 years and has extensive trial experience. Knox has earned the endorsement of every law enforcement agency in the County, as well as state and local organizations such as the California Correctional Peace Officers Association, PORAC, the California Narcotics Officers Association and the California Gang Investigators Association. Mary has advanced social justice while preventing crime in Contra Costa County. She brought anti-bias training to the District Attorney’s Office and has fought to end discrimination against women in the Contra Costa County’s District Attorney’s Office.

Mary Knox and the incumbent are the only candidates running for election as District Attorney. Since this election will be won by a simple majority, the election of the next District Attorney of Contra Costa County will be determined by the votes cast on June 7, 2022.

Deputy District Attorney Mary Knox. From her campaign Facebook page

About Mary Knox

Mary Knox has dedicated her life to making Contra Costa County safer. For more than 37 years, Mary has served as an experienced prosecutor and advocate for crime victims. As a lead prosecutor in the District Attorney’s office, Mary has won high profile cases against some of the most notorious criminals in Contra Costa County history. She worked to dismantle the criminal gangs who have preyed upon our most disadvantaged communities, and she has engaged in meaningful violence reduction by instituting effective strategies to reduce crime and prosecute violent criminals. To discourage freeway shootings, she secured $3.5 million for freeway security cameras. She brought in $3.5 million in federal funding to combat sex trafficking. And, after recent smash and grab robberies, Mary developed a three-point plan to hold organized crime syndicates accountable and prevent future crimes.

Born and raised in Walnut Creek, Mary Knox attended UCLA and then Pepperdine Law School.

During law school, Mary worked as a law clerk in the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office in the Sexual Assault Unit and in a second clerkship in the Juvenile Unit. Once Mary graduated from law school, she came home and has worked as a prosecutor in the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s for the past 37 years while raising her son, Darien, as a single mother.

Key Endorsements (for a complete list visit maryknox4da.com):

  • Crime Victims United
  • Police Officer Research Association of California (PORAC)
  • California Narcotic Officers’ Association (CNOA)
  • California Correctional Peace Officers Association
  • Central Coast Gang Investigators Association
  • National Latino Police Officer Association – Contra Costa County NLPOA Advocacy Chapter
  • Chinese American Political Association (CAPA) PAC
  • Contra Costa County Sheriff, David Livingston
  • Mitchell Celaya III, Calistoga Police Chief
  • Douglas Krathwal, Retired San Pablo Police Chief
  • Joseph Aida, Retired San Pablo Police Chief
  • Walt Schuld, Retired San Pablo Police Chief
  • John Moore, Retired Pleasant Hill Police Chief
  • Dan Lawrence, Retired Clayton Police Chief
  • Tom Holt, Former Police Lieutenant from the Contra Costa Community College District
  • Contra Costa County Deputy Sheriffs’ Association
  • Contra Costa District Attorney Investigators Association
  • El Cerrito Police Officer Association
  • Hercules Police Officer Association
  • Martinez Police Officer Association
  • Oakley Police Officer Association
  • Pinole Police Officer Association
  • Pittsburg Police Officer Association
  • Pleasant Hill Police Officer Association
  • San Ramon Police Officer Association
  • Antioch Police Officer Association
  • BART Police Officer Association
  • Brentwood Police Officer Association
  • Richmond Police Officer Association
  • San Pablo Police Employees’ Association
  • Clayton Police Officer Association
  • Concord Police Officer Association
  • East Bay Regional Parks Police Officer Association
  • Walnut Creek Police Officer Association

To learn more about incumbent DA Becton’s campaign, click here. The election is June 7.

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DA’s office, city officials won’t say how many Antioch police officers under investigation

Thursday, March 31st, 2022

Thorpe issues statement claiming investigation is to help with council’s police reform efforts; Barbanica posts video about APD staffing level concerns, says interim city manager won’t return calls to providdetails

DA won’t clearly defin“crimes of moral turpitude”; Thorpendorsed DA Becton, APOA endorsed her opponent, Deputy DA Knox

Thorpe’s statement on the investigation of APD officers posted on his official Facebook page on Saturday morning, March 27.

By Allen D. Payton

One week later, neither the Contra Costa DA’s Office nor Antioch city officials will say how many police officers are under investigation by the FBI and D.A.’s Office of Antioch that began last Wednesday, March 23 and was announced last Friday. The Pittsburg Police Department immediately responded Friday afternoon informing the public on social media that three of their officers had been placed on paid leave. (See related article)

On Tuesday, Assistant Contra Costa D.A. Simon O’Connell was asked how many Antioch police officers are under investigation. He responded, “As stated on Friday, due to the ongoing nature of the investigation, no additional details will be released at this time.”

Thorpe Issues Statement Claims It’s Done to Help in Fight to Reform APD

Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe posted a statement about the investigation on social media Saturday morning, along with a video of a KPIX Channel 5 news report. But the statement did not provide any additional details and is not known if it is the official statement from the City of Antioch.

“Mayor Thorpe’s statement regarding investigation [sic] Antioch Police Officers:

Since I assumed the Office of Mayor, a little over a year ago, I have been committed to reforming the Antioch Police Department. In order to achieve our goal of having a safe city there must always be a level of trust between our community and our officers.

I appreciate the FBI’s and District Attorney’s willingness to help in our fight to reform the Antioch Police Department. They have my personal assurance that the City of Antioch will continue to assist them in this matter.”

Barbanica Posts Video, Concerned About Antioch Police Department Staffing Levels, Can’t Get Call Back with Details from Interim City Manager

Screenshot of Barbanica YouTube video on the APD investigation.

On Saturday, Antioch Mayor Pro Tem Mike Barbanica posted a YouTube video on his official Facebook page in which he said he had tried unsuccessfully 10 times to reach Interim City Manager Con Johnson to get details. Barbanica also said he was concerned about staffing levels in the police department.

“The men and women of the Antioch Police Department that are out there doing their job the right way, every day, one hundred percent have my support and I thank them for continuing to come to work…and doing everything they can to make sure we have a safe community,” he said. “The other group that we’re talking about here, I couldn’t tell you. I have no confirmation who these people are. So, I really don’t know…the true details of what’s going on.”

“I can’t get return phone calls from our city manager’s office to give me the facts,” Barbanica continued. “Very sad day for law enforcement any time police officers are investigated for anything. But I don’t know where it stands. I don’t know if an arrest has been made.”

“Staffing levels are a huge priority for me to make sure we that have enough people out there on the street,” he stated. “I can call the chief, but he can’t call me back to give me the details of it because of the policy out of the…interim city manager’s office that the department heads can’t talk to council members unless the city manager or his designee is present and I can’t even get a call back from the CM’s office.”

So, I’ll update you as I know, which right now is very little. I’ve been kept in the dark. I will let you know as I know,” Barbanica added.

Questions for Thorpe, City Council and Staff Go Unanswered

A copy of the mayor’s statement and questions were sent late Saturday night, March 26 to Thorpe, copying the other four council members, Interim City Manager Con Johnson, City Attorney Thomas Lloyd Smith, Interim Police Chief Tony Morefield, Antioch Police Officers Association President Steve Aiello, Assistant City Manager Rosanna Bayon Moore and Public Information Officer Rolando Bonilla asking, “Is that the City of Antioch’s official statement? If so, who helped you prepare it, the PIO, interim city manager, city attorney or someone else?”

If not, why hasn’t one been issued by either the PIO or APD like the statement issued by the Pittsburg Police Department, which provided the information on their three officers who have been placed on paid leave, on Friday about an hour after the DA’s office issued their press release?

If Pittsburg PD can share that information without mentioning names of their three officers, why can’t you?

If not or if so, is what you issued the appropriate and responsible way to provide a response to such an announcement?

If not, when will the official statement be issued by either the PIO, APD or you?

If not, aren’t you, again jumping to a conclusion and assuming Antioch Police officers are guilty of something wrong before the investigation has been concluded, like you did in the Angelo Quinto case?

How many Antioch Police officers are being investigated? How many have been placed on paid administrative leave? Differing reports by Bay Area TV stations are claiming 8 or 10 officers because the City isn’t doing like the Pittsburg PD has and immediately responded to the DA’s press release. From where are they obtaining that information? Is Rolando providing that to them? Has he spoken to any media about this investigation?

Have you and the other council members been informed of how many officers are being investigated and how many have been placed on paid leave? If so, when did that occur? Also, if so, have any of you shared that information with any member of the public or media? If so, to whom did you share it?

What is the definition of crimes of moral turpitude used by the FBI, DA and APD? How does it apply to the possible crimes committed by Antioch officers? Reports by Bay Area TV media claim it’s steroid abuse and jokes about officers asking if someone is bringing cocaine or heroin with them somewhere. Is any of that true and part of the investigation?

How does the investigation of an unknown number of officers have anything to do with the police reforms approved by council majorities over the past year? Are you trying to take credit for the investigation? Did DA Becton, anyone in her department or anyone in the FBI say the investigation was to help reform the Antioch Police Department?

Did you or anyone from the Antioch city government request the investigation? If so, when? Was the investigation a topic of discussion with DA Becton during your reported private meeting with her this passed Tuesday afternoon, March 22 the day before the investigation?

Was that meeting by you and the DA appropriate since, due to your DUI arrest on March 19, you’re currently the subject of an investigation by the Contra Costa DA’s Office?

Is your statement an attempt to deflect from the news about your DUI arrest?

Did she or anyone in the DA’s office or FBI inform any of you about the investigation prior to Wednesday’s actions? Did any of you speak with Becton, anyone in her department or the FBI following the Wednesday actions? If so, when, how, what was discussed and with whom?

Have any of you endorsed and/or made any financial contributions to DA Becton’s re-election campaign? If so, when and how much?

For Lamar – has Becton endorsed you in or contributed to your campaign to beat the recall? If so, when and how much?

Has the Antioch Police Officers Association endorsed Becton’s opponent, Deputy DA Mary Knox and/or contributed to her campaign? If so, when and how much?

For Interim Chief Morefield – were you aware of any of the activity by the APD officer(s)? How long has it been occurring? Was there an internal investigation done by your department? When did that occur? What were the results? Did you invite the outside investigation?

Prior to this investigation being announced I was informed there were 83 active sworn police officers on the Antioch force the previous week and 81 this past week. Are or were those figures correct? If any Antioch officers were placed on paid leave as a result of the investigation how many were also on paid leave for injury or another reason? How many active sworn officers does the APD have, now as a result of this investigation?”

No responses were received as of Thursday, March 31 at 5:00 p.m.

Becton Endorsed by Thorpe, Opponent Knox Endorsed by APOA

A review of the campaign websites for the two candidates for district attorney, incumbent Becton and challenger Deputy District Attorney Mary Knox, they show Thorpe has endorsed Becton for re-election, as well as Antioch Councilwomen Tamisha Torres-Walker and Monica Wilson. The Antioch Police Officers Association has endorsed Knox along with all the other police officers’ associations in the county, except for Richmond’s, which hasn’t endorsed either candidate, yet. In addition, Antioch Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock and Mayor Pro Tem Mike Barbanica have also endorsed Knox, although his doesn’t currently appear on the campaign website. Barbanica announced his support in a YouTube video posted on his official Facebook page.

DA’s Office Won’t Provide Clear Definition of Crimes of Moral Turpitude

Assistant D.A. O’Connell was also asked on Friday, March 25 after working hours and again on Tuesday, March 29 to provide the definition of the legal term “crimes of moral turpitude” as it is being applied in the investigation of the Antioch and Pittsburg Police Departments.

He responded, “The definition of a crime of moral turpitude is explored and articulated by the Supreme Court of California in People v Castro (1985) 38 Cal 3d 301 and People v. Beagle (1972) 6 Cal 3d 441.”

O’Connell was then asked, “You really can’t provide what your office defines as a crime of moral turpitude upon which you’re investigating two police departments?” He did not respond.

In the 1985 case, according to case-law.vlex.com, the defendant was found guilty of receiving stolen property.  In the 1972 case, also according to case-law.vlex.com, the defendant was found guilty of attempted arson and arson.

O’Connell was then asked after hours on Tuesday, “Does that mean receiving stolen property, attempted arson and arson fit the description of crimes of moral turpitude? Is your response a hint at what the possible crimes that were committed by the officers that your office is investigating?” He did not respond as of Thursday at 5:00 p.m.

Please check back later for any updates to this report.

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Contra Costa DA Becton holds private meeting in her office with Antioch Mayor Thorpe three days after his DUI arrest

Wednesday, March 30th, 2022

Contra Costa County District Attorney Diana Becton and Antioch Mayor Thorpe.

While DA’s office investigating incident; city attorney or interim city manager may have been present; topic of discussion not revealed

By Allen D. Payton

Three days after Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe was arrested for DUI and while the Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office was investigating the incident, on Tuesday, March 22, 2022, he held a private meeting with D.A. Diana Becton in her office in Martinez, according to reports of what was seen on her visitor sign-in log. Neither Becton, her staff nor Thorpe will say what the meeting was about or if anyone else, such as the city attorney or interim city manager, was in the room with them. Becton is running for re-election in the June Primary and Thorpe is facing possible recall. (See related article)

A Public Records Act request for a copy of the visitor sign-in log for Becton’s office for that day was emailed on Friday, March 25 at 3:55 p.m. to Assistant D.A. Simon O’Connell and Becton’s Executive Assistant Bobbi Mauler.

Questions for Becton About Meeting Go Unanswered

In addition, questions for Becton about the meeting were included in that email asking, “What was the purpose of that meeting? What was discussed? Did it have anything to do with Thorpe’s arrest for DUI by the CHP last Saturday morning? Was anyone else in the meeting with you two?”

It was then shared with Becton and her staff, “according to the CHP PIO you will not allow that department to release Thorpe’s complete arrest report showing the reason the officer pulled him over or what his blood alcohol content was when he was tested at the CHP office in Martinez.”

She was then asked, “was it appropriate for you to have such a meeting – even if his arrest was not a topic of conversation – when his arrest is under investigation by your department?”

At 4:09 p.m., that day O’Connell issued a press release about the investigation of the Antioch and Pittsburg Police Departments for possible “crimes of moral turpitude”. (See related article)

Questions for Thorpe Go Unanswered

In an email on Friday, March 25, Thorpe was asked, “What was the purpose of that meeting? When did you first schedule the meeting with the DA? What was discussed?  Did it have anything to do with your arrest for DUI by the CHP last Saturday morning? Was anyone else in the meeting with you two?”

He was then told, “according to the CHP PIO the DA’s office will not allow the CHP to release your complete arrest report showing the reason the officer pulled you over or what your blood alcohol content was when you were tested at the CHP office in Martinez.”

Thorpe was also asked, “was it appropriate for you to have such a meeting – even if your arrest was not a topic of conversation – while your arrest is under investigation by the Contra Costa District Attorney’s office? Were you seeking favorable treatment from the DA in dealing with your arrest? Might it give the appearance that you were seeking a favor from the DA who is up for election, this year and while you are facing possible recall?”

He was then asked if instead, was the meeting in regard to the press release issued by the DA’s office received, that day and if he had filed a complaint about that the allegations against the Antioch Police officers with the DA’s office during that meeting.

Thorpe did not respond as of Wednesday, March 30 at 5:00 p.m.

DA Refuses to Confirm Meeting, Claims Privilege in Not Releasing Visitor Log, Won’t Reveal Topic of Discussion or If Anyone else Present

In response to the PRA request to the D.A.’s office for a copy of the visitor log, Assistant D.A. Simon O’Connell wrote in a letter on Tuesday, March 29, “Records that contain information protected by the deliberative process privilege and the official information privilege, are exempt from disclosure. (Gov. Code, section 6254(a), (k); Evid Code, section 1040; Rogers v. Superior Court (1993) 19 Cal.App.4th 469.) In accordance case precedent, the release of visitor logs would inihibit the free and candid exchange of ideas necessary to the decision-making process. (Times Mirror Co (1988) 53 Cal.3. 1325.) There is a compelling public interest in enabling public agencies to evaluate and candidly communicate in confidence. Public disclosure of such information interferes with the District Attorney’s Office ability to meaningfully deliberate and perform core functions. For these reasons, the public interest in nondisclosure of this information clearly outweighs the public interest in disclosure.”

In response, additional questions were sent Tuesday afternoon to both O’Connell and Mauler, including, “Confirming that a meeting was held by the DA in her office with an elected official who is currently under investigation for a DUI arrest just three days prior is not of public interest? Is the visitor log a public document? If not, what’s the purpose of having one? Can you please at least confirm if a meeting was held by DA Becton in her office with Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe and if anyone else was in the meeting with them, and if so, who that was?”

No response was received as of Wednesday, March 30 at 5:00 p.m.

Mayor Pro Tem Barbanica Says He Should Have Been in Meeting Instead of Thorpe

When reached for comment about the meeting, Antioch Mayor Pro Tem Mike Barbanica said, “I don’t know anything about the meeting. But if there was one and if it was regarding the investigation of the Antioch Police Department and the mayor had asked for me to go in his place, I would have and I should have been there instead. I did not receive any calls about it.”

Please check back later for any updates to this report.

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Contra Costa Public Defender wants names of Antioch, Pittsburg officers under investigation by DA

Tuesday, March 29th, 2022

McDonnell issues statement about investigation, wants to conduct own review of cases; Becton hasn’t responded

By Allen D. Payton

In a letter to Contra Costa District Attorney Diana Becton on Monday, Contra Costa Public Defender Ellen McDonnell asked for the names of the Antioch and Pittsburg Police officers who are the subjects of an investigation into possible crimes of moral turpitude. The DA’s office announced last Friday the investigation which began last Wednesday and “a review of both active and closed cases involving these officers…to evaluate whether those cases are now compromised.” (See related article)

McDonnell is also asking for all the current, pending cases the involving the officers so her office can conduct a separate review. As of 5:00 p.m. Tuesday, McDonnell said she had not received a response from Becton.

“To date, I have not been provided with any information about what this investigation of the officers is about,” McDonnell later shared.

Following is the letter:

“March 28, 2022

Diana Becton

Office of the District Attorney

900 Ward Street

Martinez, CA 94553

Dear Diana,

In light of the recent media disclosures regarding conduct involving moral turpitude on the part of officers from Pittsburg and Antioch Police Departments, I am requesting that you identify all officers from those departments currently under investigation by your office. We believe that such a disclosure is mandated by the United States Constitution, XIVth Amendment, Brady v. Maryland (1963) 373 U.S. 83 & progeny, and California case law.

I am also asking that you identify all cases currently pending that include any of the involved officers, as well as all previous cases involving those officers. Please provide us with a list of such cases in which the client is or was represented by the Office of the Public Defender or the Office of the Alternate Defender.

While we understand from your press release that you intend to conduct an internal review of affected cases, we respectfully request that you identify those officers so that we can conduct our own review according to our own practices.

Thank you in advance for your assistance and cooperation with this matter. If you have any questions about this request, please let me know.

Sincerely,

Ellen McDonnell

Public Defender Contra Costa County”

————————–

According to supreme.justia.com, in the case McDonnell cited, the court found, “The government’s withholding of evidence that is material to the determination of either guilt or punishment of a criminal defendant violates the defendant’s constitutional right to due process.”

McDonnell Issues Statement About Investigation

The Public Defender issued the following statement Tuesday evening:

“I am deeply concerned about these revelations.  Our office first heard about this investigation when the District Attorney’s Office issued a press release on March 25th.  We immediately requested that the names of any involved officers be released to our office so that we could begin the process of reviewing impacted cases and determining what role these officers played in any arrests or convictions.  Timely transparency is necessary to ensure due process of law and the fair administration of justice for our community and for those impacted by our criminal legal system, some of whom may be currently incarcerated based on the word of these officers.

This investigation into the conduct of officers from both the Pittsburg and Antioch Police Departments will potentially impact many hundreds of cases.  This includes not only current cases where these officers are witnesses, but also previous arrests and convictions involving these officers.  It is important to determine whether these officers were under investigation and suspected of committing crimes of moral turpitude while they continued to remain on the force and continued to arrest individuals, to author police reports, and to testify as witnesses in criminal court.”

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FBI, Contra Costa DA’s Office investigating possible “crimes of moral turpitude” in Antioch, Pittsburg Police Departments

Friday, March 25th, 2022

“conduct that shocks the public conscience, or which does not fall within the moral standards held by the community” – LegalDictionary.com

Will evaluate whether cases involving officers are now compromised

UPDATE: Pittsburg PD issues statement, 3 officers placed on paid leave

By Allen D. Payton

Late Friday afternoon, the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office announced that on Wednesday, March 23, 2022, the FBI and the DA’s Office conducted court-authorized law enforcement activity at multiple locations. The criminal investigation pertains to 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. A review of both active and closed cases involving these officers will be necessary to evaluate whether those cases are now compromised. Due to the ongoing nature of the investigation, no additional details will be released at this time.

The involved police departments and cities have cooperated with the investigation to ensure minimal disruption to their respective communities. The District Attorney’s Office will continue to work in conjunction with federal authorities along with the cities of Antioch and Pittsburg to ensure public trust and public safety.

According to LegalDictionary.com moral turpitude means, “Conduct that is believed to be contrary to community standards of honesty, good morals, or justice.” In addition, that website reads, “Moral turpitude is a legal concept that refers to any conduct that is believed to be contrary to the community standards of honesty, justice, or good moral values. While there is no one exact definition of acts that are considered under moral turpitude, they are typically described as any acts of vileness or depravity, or of sexual immorality, whether in a private or social context.  The word turpitude is defined as a shameful, vile, or corrupt character or acts. Moral turpitude refers to conduct that shocks the public conscience, or which does not fall within the moral standards held by the community. The law concerning moral turpitude is constantly changing and evolving, as the moral standards of society in general change.”

UPDATE: Pittsburg PD Places 3 Officers on Paid Leave

The Pittsburg PD issued the following statement on their social media accounts early Friday evening:

“The Pittsburg Police Department is aware of a joint criminal investigation being conducted by the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office along with the FBI. The investigation involves several local police officers, including three current Pittsburg Police Officers. Anytime there is any allegation of criminal misconduct, that is something our organization takes extremely seriously.

In September of 2021, the department received information that a Pittsburg Officer was involved in illegal activity. The tip also indicated that other law enforcement officers were involved, but did not go into further details. When we learned of the allegations, we immediately contacted the District Attorney’s Office and asked them to conduct an independent criminal investigation.

This past Wednesday, the FBI and the District Attorney’s Office met with three current Pittsburg Police Officers as part of this investigation. After the meetings, all three Pittsburg Police Officers were placed on paid administrative leave. This is still an active criminal investigation being conducted by two outside law enforcement agencies, so we do not have further details into the alleged misconduct. The Pittsburg Police Department will continue to cooperate with the DA’s Office and the FBI. We will also be conducting our own internal investigation that will be completed by an independent, outside investigator.

Please know that the women and men at our Department remain committed to serving our community. Any officer who has violated their oath of office by engaging in illegal or unethical conduct will be held accountable.”

No Response from City of Antioch, Yet

A copy of the DA’s release was sent, Friday at 4:36 p.m., to Interim Antioch Police Chief Tony Morefield, copying Captain Trevor Schnitzius asking if they can provide any information about the investigation. Morefield said any inquiries about the matter must be made to the City of Antioch public information officer (PIO).

An email was then sent to Antioch’s PIO Rolando Bonilla after business hours on Friday asking for the response from the city.

A question was also sent to Assistant DA Simon O’Connell after hours Friday asking for his office’s legal definition of “crimes of moral turpitude”.

Please check back later for any updates to this report.

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