Archive for the ‘FBI’ Category

9 Antioch, Pittsburg officers charged with civil rights violations, steroid distribution, wire fraud, destroying evidence

Thursday, August 17th, 2023
Current and former Antioch officers arrested on Thursday, August 17, 2023, are (top L-R) Community Service Officer Samantha Genoveva Peterson, Officers Morteza Amiri and Eric Allen Rombough and (bottom L-R) former officers Devon Christopher Wenger, Timothy Allen Manly Williams and Daniel James Harris. Photos: APD

Press conference held on arrests, indictments of 3 current, 3 former APD, 3 former Pittsburg and 1 Oakland Housing Authority cops; face up to 10 to 20 years in prison and $250,000 to $500,000 in fines

Three Antioch officers charged with civil rights crimes for their alleged conspiracy to use unnecessary force in deploying munitions and a police K-9

“This is a complicated investigation. These always are.” – U.S. Attorney Ismail Ramsey – “Every defendant is assumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. No defendant is charged with all the charges in all the conduct.”

By Allen D. Payton

U.S. Attorney for the Northern California District Ismail Ramsey in his first press conference in San Francisco and Special Agent in Charge of the FBI San Francisco Division Robert Tripp, shared information about the 10 current and former Antioch and Pittsburg Police officers who were arrested this morning on multiple charges. It follows the four indictments issued by the federal Grand Jury, yesterday and which were unsealed, today.

Joining Ramsey and Tripp at the press conference were Contra Chief Assistant District Attorney Simon O’Connell and several members of the prosecution team, Laura Vartain, Chief of the U.S. Department of Justice Northern California Special Prosecution Unit including Alethea Sargent, Assistant U.S. Attorney, Criminal Division, Eric Cheng Assistant U.S. Attorney, Special Prosecutions, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Ajay Krishnamurthy.

Former Pittsburg Officer Amanda Carmella Theodosy (aka Nash), Ernesto Juan Mejia-Orozco and Patrick James Berhan were arrested on Thursday, Aug. 17, 2023. Photos: Pittsburg PD (A photo of Oakland Housing Authority officer Brauli Rodriguez Jalapa could not be located).

Indicted and arrested are current Antioch officers Morteza Amiri, Eric Allen Rombough and Community Service Officer Samantha Genoveva Peterson, former APD officers Daniel James Harris, Devon Christopher Wenger and Timothy Allen Manly Williams, as well as former Pittsburg officers Amanda Carmella Theodosy (aka Nash), Patrick James Berhan and Ernesto Juan Mejia-Orozco, and Oakland Housing Authority officer and Brauli Rodriguez Jalapa.

U.S. Attorney for Northern California Ismail Ramsey holds a press conference with and Special Agent in Charge of the FBI San Francisco Division Robert Tripp, (2nd from left), Assistant U.S. Attorney, Special Prosecutions Eric Cheng, Contra Chief Assistant District Attorney Simon O’Connell and Assistant U.S. Attorney Ajay Krishnamurthy. Screenshot of NBC Bay Area News video.

After a year-and-a-half investigation by the FBI and Contra Costa DA’s Office for what were referred to as “crimes of moral turpitude”, committed by the current and former officers were finally described. Ramsey said they include conspiracy to violate civil rights, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, distributing anabolic steroids, obstruction and civil rights violations.

“Every defendant is assumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. No defendant is charged with all the charges in all the conduct,” he stated.

Ramsey then described the four indictments against the officers.

The first he labeled the “college degree benefits fraud indictment” in which “officers sought to defraud the Antioch and Pittsburg Police Departments. They hired people to attend classes and take exams for them. They conspired…to reap the financial benefits without putting in the work.”

“Two defendants are charged with distributing anabolic steroids,” Ramsey continued. “One of the two defendants destroyed evidence. Those are former Antioch officers Daniel Harris and Devon Wenger.

“One defendant is charged with obstruction indictment,” he continued. “A police officer destroyed, altered evidence to obstruct a federal investigation…monitored a wiretap. He used his own personal phone to call a defendant in the wiretap.” That refers to former Antioch officer Timothy Allen Manly Williams.

Ramsey said he is “Also charged with a civil rights violation in confiscating a citizen’s phone and destroying it to conceal evidence.”

The fourth he referred to as the “deprivations of rights indictment…a 29-page indictment of three officers in the Antioch Police Department.” They include the “improper deployment of canines and weapons to harm individuals in and around Antioch. They boasted about illegal use of force and texted photos of injured individuals,” Ramsey said. That indictment includes current officers Morteza Amiri, Eric Allen Rombough and Wenger.

He referred to them as “a group of officers who acted is if they were above the law. They tried to escape scrutiny by failing to submit truthful reports and deploy body warn cameras.”

Asked later about that claim since Antioch officers didn’t have body worn cameras during the time period of their alleged crimes, DOJ Nor Cal spokesman Abraham Simmons responded, “I am certain he is referencing the allegations actually in the indictments. I can look again at the indictments.”

“Officers take an oath,” Ramsey continued during the press conference. “The indictments paint a picture, today that demonstrate officers who have violated that oath.

“All officers indicted have been arrested,” he added and thanked those involved including CCDA Becton.

FBI Special Agent in Charge Tripp said, they “arrested nine subjects. All are or were associated with the Pittsburg or Antioch Police Departments. Three were current employees who had been placed on administrative leave.”

The arrests were made in “the Bay Area, Hawaii and Texas” and “more than 100 law enforcement employees participated,” he stated.

Tripp said it was the result of “more than two years of painstaking work.” 

“The FBI treated these arrests like any other operation,” he said. “We used the same techniques and assessed the risks.

“This case has been the SF Field Office’s top priority,” Tripp continued. “We use the term color of law for the shorthand of someone using their official position to undermine public confidence in the law and undermine the fundamental rights of our citizens.”

“Color of law violations will not be tolerated. Not all indictments are color of law violations. Any breach of the public trust is unacceptable. Nobody is above the law,” he stated.

In response to a question from a member of the media “will more indictments be coming down,” Ramsey said, “The investigation is still continuing,” Ramsey said.

Asked “can we expect any state charges?” he said. “We’re here to comment on our charges. The investigation on the federal side is continuing. We are now at the point where we have indictments returned and individuals in custody.”

Asked where the court cases will be held Ramsey said, “This case is venued in Oakland. There have been numerous hearings today. The schedule for additional appearances is being worked out.”

Asked about those arrested in Texas and Hawaii Ramsey said, “The arraignments for those will happen in the districts where they were arrested. They then have to…be brought to here, to address the charges on this case.”

“Civil rights violations under the color of law are a priority…of my office and the FBI’s,” he stated

Asked about the text messages he responded, “As laid out in the indictment there’s a series of text messages…in which officers are bragging about violating citizens’ civil rights and texting photos of citizens. We believe these are egregious and has led to these charges. This is a complicated investigation. These always are. We have four of the ASA’s who worked tirelessly on this case. They’re prepared to take steps necessary to prosecute.”

“Civil rights violations are a unique priority of ours. I don’t want you to think steroid distribution or wire fraud are not serious. They’re federal violations,” Ramsey added.

Press Release Offers Additional Details in Indictments

A press release labeled “Bad Apples Indictment” was issued later Thursday with additional details about the indictments:

At the press conference, U.S. Attorney Ramsey referred to the first indictment as the “college degree benefits fraud indictment.” According to the indictment, six defendants engaged in a conspiracy to defraud police departments out of taxpayer dollars, including the Antioch and Pittsburg Police Departments, by claiming they had earned college credits toward degrees when, instead, they paid others to attend classes and take exams for them. Specifically, beginning in June of 2019, Officer Patrick James Berhan of the Pittsburg Police Department utilized a person identified as “Individual 1” to complete multiple college courses on his behalf.  The courses were credited toward Berhan’s completion of a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice. Berhan allegedly received a degree and then applied for and received reimbursements and increases to his pay from Pittsburg Police Department.  Further, the indictment alleges Berhan “promoted Individual 1’s services” and “benefited from payments received by Individual 1 in furtherance of the scheme.”  The indictment describes how five other members of the police departments retained Individual 1 to complete similar coursework from the university.  Each paid money to Individual 1, obtained a degree based on the fraudulent coursework, and applied for benefits including reimbursements and increases in pay from their law enforcement employer.

The second indictment charges two defendants with conspiring to distribute anabolic steroids.  The indictment describes how Officers Daniel Harris and Devon Wenger, both of the Antioch Police Department, allegedly conspired illegally to distribute the drugs to an unnamed customer.  The indictment also alleges that Harris possessed and attempted to possess the drugs, and that Wenger attempted to delete evidence of the scheme from his cellular phone prior to handing the phone over to law enforcement officers. 

The third indictment charges a single defendant, Timothy Allen Manly Williams (Manly), also then with the Antioch Police Department, with three charges—two involving alleged interference with a wiretap investigation and the third involving the illegal seizure and destruction of a telephone.  The indictment alleges that on March 23, 2021, Manly was assigned to a “wire room” where, pursuant to a court order, he was supposed to monitor communications between a target and others who contacted the target by telephone.  While monitoring the target, Manly allegedly used his personal cellphone, dialed a special code to ensure his number would not appear to others, and called a target of the investigation.  After dialing the number, Manly also designated his call to the target to be “non-pertinent” ensuring the 14-second conversation would not be recorded.  Manly also allegedly made entries on the wire logs to suggest that the call he made resulted in no answer and no audio.  The indictment further alleges that on May 6, 2021, Manly was on the scene when another officer deployed a police dog when arresting a person. Upon seeing a witness using a cellular telephone to record the aftermath of the incident, Manly allegedly seized the witness’s telephone and destroyed it.

The fourth indictment charges three Antioch police officers—Morteza Amiri, Eric Rombough, and Devon Wenger—with conspiracy against rights and deprivation of rights under color of law.  The 29-page indictment describes how the defendants allegedly communicated with each other and others about using and intending to use excessive force against individuals in and around Antioch.  The uses of excessive force included deployment of a K9, deployment of a 40mm “less lethal” launcher, and other unnecessary violence.  Further, the indictment alleges that the defendants deployed uses of force as “punishment” to subjects “beyond any punishment appropriately imposed by the criminal justice system,” and allegedly made repeated reference to or suggestion of violating the civil rights of their victims.  Examples in the indictment include the following:

  • On July 24, 2019, Amiri allegedly pulled over a bicyclist, identified as A.A., for failing to have lights on after dark.  The indictment alleges that “[i]n the course of apprehending A.A., Amiri punched him multiple times; K9 Purcy then bit A.A. in the arm, injuring him.”  Amiri then shared pictures of the victim’s wounds with other Antioch police officers who exchanged text messages including: “Yeah buddy good boy pursy,” “F[expletive] that turd,” and Amiri later stated “Detectives already called PRCS and got him a 45 day violation and we are gonna leave it at that so i don’t have to go to court for the bite. easy.”  In response to a question from another officer about what cut the dog’s face, Amiri responded, “that’s a piece of the suspect’s flesh lol.” 
  • On October 8, 2020, Amiri allegedly sent a text message identifying a transient living in Antioch identified as M.Z. stating “anyone that finds him gets code [a free meal or beverage].  This f[expletive] stole my mail and was trying to open accounts under my name.” Wenger responded “Lets beat his f[expletive] ass I’m down after work morty” According to the indictment, the recipients of Amiri’s message located M.Z. later that evening. Amiri then arrived on the scene, shoved M.Z. against a wall and threatened to kill him. The indictment also alleges that a few months later Amiri texted another group of officers in reference to M.Z., “few months ago, I tracked him down and dragged him to the back of a car to ‘discuss’ the matter,” and “putting a pistol in someone’s mouth and telling them to stop stealing isn’t illegal. . .  it’s an act of public service to prevent further victims of crimes” 
  • On May 5, 2021, Rombough accompanied other Antioch police officers who responded to a report that transients were living inside a privately-owned unit.  While responding, Rombough and another officer located a couple lying on a bed inside a room.  Rombough deployed a 40mm less lethal launcher at one of the persons on the bed, hitting them in the chest and knocking them off the bed. 
  • On August 24, 2021, Rombough accompanied other Antioch police officers as they executed a search warrant at a residence in Antioch.  Officers located a subject—identified as J.W.—inside a locked bedroom holding a video game controller while sitting on an air mattress, with a video game on a television screen.  J.W. removed a pair of headphones and raised his hands as officers, including Rombough, entered the room.  One officer took J.W.’s left arm to arrest him as four other officers surrounded J.W.  As the other officer held J.W.’s left arm on the bed, Rombough deployed the 40mm less lethal launcher at J.W., injuring him. 

The indictment describes several other incidents of excessive force as well as the collection and sharing of pictures to memorialize acts of violence and the collection by defendant Rombough of spent munitions to commemorate his deployment of the 40mm launcher. 

An indictment merely alleges that crimes have been committed, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. 

The indictments charge the following defendants with crimes as follows:

Source: U.S. Attorney’s Office Northern California District

In addition, as part of any sentence following conviction, the court may order defendants to serve an additional term of supervised release to begin after a prison term as well as additional fines, and restitution, if appropriate.  Any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the court only after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.

The case is being prosecuted by the Special Prosecutions Section and Oakland Branch of the United States Attorney’s Office. The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the FBI and the Office of the District Attorney of Contra Costa County.

Further Information:

Case #s:

23 CR 264 JSW










18 U.S.C. § 1349 – Conspiracy to Commit Wire Fraud (one count)

18 U.S.C. § 1343 – Wire Fraud (six counts)

18 U.S.C. § 981(a)(1)(C) and 28 U.S.C. § 2461(c) – Forfeiture Allegation

23 CR 267 YGR




18 U.S.C. § 1519 – Destruction, Alteration, and Falsification of Records in Federal Investigations;

18 U.S.C. § 1512(c)(2) – Obstruction of Official Proceedings;

18 U.S.C. § 242 – Deprivation of Rights Under Color of Law

23 CR 268 HSG





21 U.S.C. §§ 846, 841(a)(1), and (b)(1)(E)(i) – Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute Anabolic Steroids;

21 U.S.C. §§ 846, 841(a)(1), and (b)(1)(E)(i) – Attempted Possession with Intent to Distribute Anabolic Steroids;

21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and (b)(1)(E)(i) – Possession with Intent to Distribute Anabolic Steroids;

18 U.S.C. § 1519 – Destruction, Alteration, and Falsification of Records in Federal Investigations

21 U.S.C. § 853 – Forfeiture Allegation

23 CR 269 AMO






18 U.S.C. § 241 – Conspiracy Against Rights (one count)

18 U.S.C. § 242 – Deprivation of Rights Under Color of Law (seven counts)

18 U.S.C. § 1519 – Destruction, Alteration, and Falsification of Records in Federal Investigations (one count)

A copy of this press release will be placed on the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s website at

Electronic court filings and further procedural and docket information are available at

Judges’ calendars with schedules for upcoming court hearings can be viewed on the court’s website at

“Police officers promise to enforce laws for the protection of the public and to protect the rights of the accused,” said U.S. Attorney Ramsey. “That is the job.  The indictments describe officers who are alleged to have violated this oath. When this happens, the damage done to the public trust cannot easily be calculated.  This office will not rest until all persons who have engaged in this sort of behavior are apprehended and prosecuted.” 

“This case is one of the highest priorities for the San Francisco Field Office,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Tripp. “Law enforcement officers bear a tremendous responsibility to police our communities lawfully in keeping with the constitution, and we must always be true to that guiding principle. I want to extend my sincere appreciation to the FBI agents, analysts, and law enforcement partners who worked tirelessly on this case and whose efforts culminated in the operations today.”

Antioch officer’s attorney says arrest raid with flash bang, bullhorn was showboating, overblown

Thursday, August 17th, 2023
Antioch Police Officer Morteza Amiri on the day he was sworn in Nov. 27, 2017 (left) and more recently. Photos: APD

At least one arrest occurred at 5 a.m. waking neighbors

By Allen D. Payton

Mike Rains and his law office represents the Antioch Police Officers Association and one of the eight current or former officers indicted yesterday by the Federal Grand Jury in San Francisco and arrested, this morning. But he says the arrest and the way it occurred with the FBI raids on his client’s and the other officers’ homes was unnecessary.

In an NBC Bay Area news report earlier Thursday, “Rains said the FBI agents, including some from Southern California, used a flash bang and bullhorns during the “forcible arrest” of his client, adding the officer would have surrendered if asked.”

In addition, a neighbor of one of the officers posted a comment on Facebook writing, “One happened right in front of my house. Ring camera caught the whole thing. Needless to say we all woke up at 5 am today lol.”

When reached about the arrests and in response to which Antioch officer he represents Rains said, “Our office represents (Officer Morteza) Amiri, myself and Julia Fox. Amiri is named in two indictments. He clearly has the most counts.”

Asked why the arrests and raids instead of allowing the officers to turn themselves in Rains responded, “That’s all they needed to do. They’ve been in touch with us repeatedly. Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric Cheng and I have talked on the phone at least 10 times about other Antioch officers they wanted to testify at the Grand Jury. So, we knew they were running a grand jury. All the officers have been cooperating.”

“They know we’re responsible lawyers…we have control over Amiri,” his attorney continued. “While on administrative leave he’s been required to call in to the department every single day. There’s no way they had to do this showboating with flashbangs and the other nonsense they pulled today.”

Asked where his client was arrested Rains said, “Amiri was in California at home.”

Although, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI San Francisco Division Robert Tripp said during today’s press conference, “The FBI treated these arrests like any other operation. We used the same techniques and assessed the risks,” Rains disagreed.

“Of course, they didn’t need to do it. It was completely unnecessary and overblown,” the attorney reiterated. “They needed to do that? Give me a break. It was stupid.”

Amiri was hired by the Antioch Police Department in November 2017 as a lateral transfer from the Brentwood Police Department where he had three years of experience. He now faces multiple charges including one count of Conspiracy Against Rights, seven counts of Deprivation of Rights Under Color of Law, one count of Destruction, Alteration, and Falsification of Records in Federal Investigations, one count of Conspiracy to Commit Wire Fraud, six counts of Wire Fraud and a Forfeiture Allegation.

Amiri is still currently employed by APD and on paid administrative leave.

The officers are now being held in a federal detention center in Oakland, according to Rains, NBC Bay Area news reported.

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.

Juvenile survivor of human trafficking rescued, two suspects arrested

Wednesday, August 2nd, 2023

Multi-agency Operation Cross Country conducts three efforts, investigating four other cases

Under leadership of organization with office in Antioch

By Ted Asregadoo, PIO, Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office

Law enforcement partners with the Contra Costa Human Trafficking Task Force arrested two suspected human traffickers and recovered one juvenile victim in a nationwide effort to apprehend human traffickers and provide services to victims.

As part of Operation Cross Country, task force partners and local FBI personnel jointly conducted three separate anti-human trafficking operations throughout Contra Costa County from July 19th through 30th, 2023. These joint efforts led to the arrest of a 33-year-old male resident of Sacramento and a 24-year-old male resident of Oakland, and the identification of nine survivors of human trafficking – including one juvenile. Additionally, the FBI and task force partners are still investigating four other cases in Contra Costa County. All victims identified through these operations met with specialized human trafficking victim advocates immediately upon contact and were offered a range of services and support.

“These outcomes demonstrate the positive results that can be achieved from collaboration between law enforcement and community partners to address the harm caused by human trafficking and deliver justice to victims,” noted District Attorney Diana Becton.

The suspects were arrested or cited on one or more of the following human trafficking or human trafficking-related offenses: sex trafficking of a minor, supervising, aiding, or recruiting a prostitute, and violating a protective order [PC236.1(c), PC653.23, and PC166(a4]. The ongoing investigations in these cases center on these charges as well as pimping, pandering, and adult trafficking [PC266h, PC266i, and PC236.1(b)].

Task Force Co-chair and Executive Director of Community Violence Solutions, Cynthia Peterson, highlighted that “the partnership among Contra Costa’s task force members in combatting human trafficking ensures a coordinated, trauma-informed response focused on our shared goals of empowering and providing comprehensive services and support to victims.”

Participating agencies included, in alphabetical order:

• Community Violence Solutions

• Concord Police Department

• Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office (CCCDA)

• Contra Costa County Probation Department

• Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Department

• Federal Bureau of Investigations

• Hercules Police Department

• Homeland Security Investigations

• International Rescue Committee

• Northern California Regional Intelligence Center

• Pittsburg Police Department

• Pleasant Hill Police Department

• Richmond Police Department

The Contra Costa Human Trafficking Task Force is co-led by the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office and Community Violence Solutions, a community-based 24-hour service provider for survivors of sexual assault and human trafficking.

Founded in 2018, the Task Force envisions a community free of human trafficking where survivors thrive. It aims to achieve this by encouraging self-sufficiency and empowerment through the provision of survivor-centered, culturally responsive advocacy and services; striving for exploiter accountability through prosecution, education, civil remedies, and restorative practices; educating task force members and the community; and harnessing data to guide these efforts.

Anyone with information on suspected human trafficking (sex or labor) or related crimes is encouraged to make a report to your local law enforcement agency or the District Attorney’s Human Trafficking Tip Line (925) 957-8658.

BBB Alert: Want a COVID-19 test? There’s a scam for that

Thursday, January 6th, 2022

By Better Business Bureau

The US Food and Drug Administration is warning people of fraudulent coronavirus tests, vaccines, and treatments as the pandemic continues. According to the Centers for Disease Control, since the arrival of the Omicron variant, the increase of testing for COVID-19 has become a concern. Scarcity often leads to potential scams for a product that doesn’t exist, the compromise of personal identifiable information, or the increase of deceptive advertising.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) issued a warning last year about potential fraud related to the antibody tests. Scammers are selling unapproved COVID-19 antibody tests, which can give inaccurate results. In doing so, they are also collecting personal information, such as Social Security numbers and dates of birth. They may also be stealing health insurance or Medicare information that can be used in future schemes.

How the scam works

Robocalls are sent out to consumers directing them to a website that looks like a clinic or medical supply company offering COVID-19 tests. These tests allegedly identify if a person has been infected with coronavirus – even if they’ve  recovered. Some even promise results in 10 minutes. However, to receive a test, a credit card or a form needs to be completed with personal information.

In some cases, the test involves an easy at-home testing kit. Other times, the tests are allegedly offered through a clinic. But in all versions, the person or website selling the test is short on details. They aren’t willing or able to provide any information about how the test works, where it is sourced, and what laboratory processes it.

Don’t fall for it! These tests are not US Food and Drug Administration approved and will not give accurate results. In fact, requestors may never even receive an actual test kit. Either way, scammers will have made off with the money and personal information.

In a new twist, Newsweek reports that scammers appeared at a testing site in Florida and conducted fake tests to people standing in line, as a ruse to get their personal information.

How to avoid fake coronavirus tests and related scams

  • Want a test? Talk to your doctor. Reach out to your healthcare provider. They can help figure out if the test will be covered by insurance and where to find a legitimate clinic.  If you don’t have a primary care physician, check out the official website of your local health department for more information on testing availability.
  • Research before buying. Scammers put pressure on people to buy or commit without giving them time to do further research. Before agreeing to anything, investigate first. Research any claims the company makes. Start with searching to see they are BBB Accredited, have good reviews, and if there are complaints or scam reports associated with their business name. In addition, review the warnings on FBIFederal Trade CommissionAttorney General’s office, and BBB ScamTracker.
  • Understand all options: The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has a detailed guide to testing for COVID-19. Understand the different tests available.
  • Never share your personal information with strangers. Only make purchases and share your personal information with people and companies you know and trust. Be wary of anyone approaching you in line; ask for credentials if necessary. If you suspect  your personal information has been compromised, report it to
  • Check claims of FDA approval. Per the FBI, “Not all COVID-19 antibody tests have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and their efficacy has not been determined.” Check the FDA website for a list of approved tests and testing companies.

For More Information

BBB has additional tips for avoiding scams on and the BBB news feed.

If you’ve been the victim of a scam, please report it on the Your report can help others to stay alert and avoid similar scams.


Contra Costa DA files charges in Antioch 2015 homicide cold case, three more in Concord

Tuesday, September 15th, 2020

Result of years-long Operation by FBI Safe Streets Task Force

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

Martinez, Calif. – Today, Tuesday, September 15, 2020 the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office is announcing three homicide cold cases, involving multiple defendants who are gang members affiliated with the Sureños, were filed recently. The gang violence was focused in South Concord and near Monument Boulevard. This successful effort was due to the years-long investigation and operation led by the FBI Safe Streets Task Force and local partners, including Concord Police, FBI, U.S. Attorney’s Office of Northern California, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms along with our Office. Two cases were filed last week, and one was filed yesterday, totaling four homicides involving 11 defendants. (See related article)

One of the homicides occurred in Antioch, and the victim was from Pittsburg, (See related article). The other three of the homicides occurred in Concord.

Operation Boulevard Blues culminated in a major law enforcement operation last Thursday that resulted in the arrest of 31 individuals and involved 31 different law enforcement agencies. Thirty-four search warrants were executed in multiple locations across Contra Costa County and 42 firearms were recovered. The details of the operation were announced earlier this morning with our federal partners.

“Our local efforts working collaboratively with our law enforcement partners, especially Concord Police, will keep our community safer and take violent gang members off the streets of Concord,” said District Attorney Diana Becton. “This successful operation started with a wiretap and led to multiple gang members involved in senseless murders and violence being arrested. While these cases were not solved right away, Concord Police and the FBI Safe Streets Task Force did not give up and fortunately we can bring some closure to the victims’ families.”

Overall, the DA’s Office filed three separate homicide complaints involving the following gang members of the Sureños – all of the alleged four homicides were done for the benefit of the gang:

  • People v. Michael Valdez, Andrew Cervantes, Daniel Rodriguez, Docket Number 01-194377-8

o   Victim is Marcos Villazon of Pittsburg, Date of Alleged Murder is November 21, 2015 in Antioch

o   Victim is Luis Estrada, Date of Alleged Murder is November 30, 2015 in Concord

  • People v. Rafael Lopez & Juan Barocio Jr., Docket Number 01-194379-4

o   Victim is Victor Gutierrez, Date of Alleged Murder is April 17, 2014 in Concord

  • People v. Jose Cisneros, Marcos Ochoa, Luis Cruz, Aurelia Mendez, Antonio Mendez, Jose Ochoa, Docket Number 01-194418-0

o   Victim is Erick Cruz, Date of Alleged Murder is September 12, 2015 in Concord

The criminal investigations because of this operation are still active and ongoing. All of the defendants charged by the DA’s Office remain in custody.

Allen Payton contributed to this report.