By Allen Payton
Retired Superior Court Judge Diana Becton was sworn in as the new District Attorney for Contra Costa County on Monday, September 18th, at 4:30 p.m. The oath of office was administered by Chairman of the Board of Supervisors, Federal Glover in the District Attorney’s Community Room in Martinez.
“I am honored to have been chosen by the Board of Supervisors to serve the people of Contra Costa County,” she said. “With over two decades of experience in the administration of justice and the practice of criminal law, I am excited by this new opportunity to reform our justice system and restore integrity to the DA’s office. I look forward to serving alongside law enforcement and county prosecutors to promote public safety, equality, fairness, and confidence in our courts and legal system.”
The overflow crowd included friends, colleagues and supporters, as well as her new office staff including her Deputy District Attorney overflowing into and standing in the hallway outside.
A Bay Area native, Becton attended Oakland public schools and received her B.A. in economics from S.F. State University and her J.D. from Golden Gate University Law School. She worked as the Housing Finance & Development Supervisor for the City of Richmond from 1979 to 1987. Prior to that she worked as the Housing Finance Corporation Manager Becton then worked as attorney in private practice from 1987 until 1995, first as a partner of Alexander & Becton (Brown) Law Offices which had has many as nine lawyers. Later she operated her own law practice, which according to her application for the appointment, “focused on litigation in real estate, business, landlord tenant, personal injury and criminal cases.”
Although Becton has no experience prosecuting criminal cases, in private practice she “was responsible for both criminal and juvenile cases. I appeared at arraignments and bail hearings, analyzed cases, talked to witnesses to determine what happened, identified strengths and weaknesses, participated in plea bargaining and resolution, developed trial strategies, conducted jury selection, opening statements, questioned witnesses, prepared law and motion, and presented closing arguments,” also according to her application. DBecton DA apptmt application
She was appointed to the court in 1995 by Gov. Pete Wilson and presided over a diverse collection of misdemeanor, felony, civil, mental health and juvenile cases.
In 2011, Becton was elected Presiding Judge of the Contra Costa Superior Court. In this capacity, she was responsible for leading the court and managing its staff and resources, including an annual budget of approximately $56 million. In 2012, Becton received the Rose Bird Memorial Award for judicial excellence from the California Women Lawyers. She subsequently served as President of the National Association of Women Judges.
In 2013 she obtained her Real Estate Broker’s license which expired in January. 2015, Becton earned her Master’s degree in Theology from the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley. Upon her appointment, she became the first African American and first female Contra Costa County District Attorney.
“This job is a tremendous responsibility,” Becton said. “I am committed to restoring public trust in the DA’s office. The people of Contra Costa County need to be confident in their judicial system, and I will work tirelessly with law enforcement, deputy district attorneys, and public defenders to rebuild that trust. As District Attorney, I want to bring people together to improve our office’s accountability and encourage community engagement throughout Contra Costa County.”
According to a news release from the county, it was an informal ceremony at which the constitutional oath of office necessary for Becton to assume office was administered. The ceremonial investiture proceeding that traditionally accompanies the District Attorney’s assumption of office will be held in the Board of Supervisors’ Chambers at some point in the near future, for the public to witness. The election for District Attorney will be held next June.Read More
The suspect wanted in connection with a recent attempted homicide in Byron is now in custody. 22-year-old Antonio Morales of Oakley was arrested on Tuesday in Antioch by a U.S. Marshals Task Force that worked in conjunction with Office of the Sheriff Detectives.
On September 2, 2017, Deputy Sheriffs were dispatched to a report of a shooting on the 3000 block of Taylor Road in Bryon. Callers also reported an unknown suspect speeding through a parking lot with his vehicle aimed toward a group of people. The vehicle, a Nissan Maxima, reportedly struck numerous people and that several people were injured.
The suspect vehicle fled the scene. Deputies determined two people were hit by the car. They were treated and released from the hospital. Detectives later identified Morales, the driver, as the suspect.
On Wednesday Morales was booked into the Martinez Detention Facility on two counts of attempted murder and one count of assault with a deadly weapon. Morales is being held in lieu of $2,310,000 bail.
Anyone with any information about this case is asked to contact the Investigation Division at (925) 313-2600 or call the anonymous tip line at (866) 846-3592. Tips can also be emailed to: email@example.com.Read More
The disguised and masked Antifa, other radical groups, and individuals must be dealt with immediately by the police when they appear to just terrorize, injure, vandalize, and overall break the existing laws.
They arrive united in purpose, similarly disguised, and with covered faces so they won’t be identified. Our California Penal Code laws clearly make it illegal to; Conspire together (PC 182), Wearing Mask Or Disguise (PC 185), Assault (PC 240), Batter (PC 242), Assault With A Deadly Weapon (PC 245), to Terrorize/Threaten (PC 422 and/or 11411), Riot (PC 404), Incite To Riot (PC 404.6), Rout (PC 406), Unlawfully Assemble (PC 407), Participating In Rout Or Unlawful Assembly (408), Public Disturbance (PC 415), Threatening With Weapon (PC 417), Vandalize, Damage Or Destroy (PC 594), and so on.
And, it’s unlawful also for the police to willfully not suppress a Riot or Route (PC 410). In addition, any of their superiors who order them to not take action are guilty also.
So, the answer to all of their lawlessness is quite simple. Just enforce the laws immediately and shortly these things will cease considerably. There is your answer.
Ralph A. Hernandez
Lafayette resident was owner of “A Child’s Point Of View” psychotherapy practice, pays $100,000 in restitution, so far
By Allen Payton
Orinda child psychologist Kenneth Breslin was arrested for possession of child pornography on October 5, 2016 which was announced by the Contra Costa District Attorney’s office. According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office District of Northern California, for many years, Breslin now age 69, of Lafayette, Calif., was the Director and Owner of “A Child’s Point of View,” an Orinda-based office that provided adolescent, adult, and family psychotherapy services. (See related article).
A federal grand jury in Oakland indicted him on December 15, 2016, with possession of child pornography. It was announced by United States Attorney Brian J. Stretch and U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Special Agent in Charge Ryan L. Spradlin.
In a press release from the state Board of Psychology on November 9, “Antonette Sorrick, Executive Officer of the Board, released the following statement regarding Dr. Kenneth Allen Breslin: ‘The protection of the citizens of California is paramount to the Board of Psychology and I want the public to know that the Board will move as fast as possible to investigate the allegations regarding Dr. Kenneth Allen Breslin. In the interim, I urge current and future patients to always check the license of their practitioners for their protection and peace of mind.’”
The Board also committed to “take steps to discipline Dr. Breslin’s license and further restrict his ability to practice psychology after further investigation, or action on the criminal matter.”
Breslin was prohibited from practicing psychology pursuant to a Contra Costa Superior Court order issued on November 28, 2016. He later lost his license to practice psychology. The state Board moved to revoke his license for various violations related to the case and he signed a document saying he wouldn’t contest the action.
Breslin was arrested at his residence on December 18, 2016, and made his initial appearance in federal court in San Francisco on December 19.
According to the indictment, Breslin was alleged to have knowingly possessed, and accessed with intent to view, child pornography. He was charged with one count of possession of child pornography, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2252(a)(4)(B).
Breslin was held in the custody of the United States Marshals Service until his appearance December 21, 2016, for a detention hearing before the Honorable Jacqueline Scott Corley, U.S. Magistrate Judge.
He was released on December 21 pending sentencing with the stipulations that he “shall not access the internet & shall not use or possess any computer.” During the detention hearing, Judge Corley confirmed that Breslin “may not use a smart phone, or anything capable of accessing the internet.” He and his sister both signed a $150,000 bond as a promise to pay against property they owned.
However, Breslin violated his release conditions two times by accessing the internet. According to court documents, “Breslin admitted to (Pretrial Services) Officer (Anthony) Granados that he had been using the iPhone regularly to access the internet but denied he was using it for anything illegal. Id. During multiple hearings that resulted from the bond violation, Magistrate Corley found that Breslin had violated the condition that he not access the internet by clear and convincing evidence. The government announced its intention to file a motion to forfeit the bond.” minute_order_remanding_to_custody
Because of that, two weeks ago, Breslin’s bond was revoked and he was taken back into custody and had to forfeit $100,000. The court agreed that would be the maximum amount. The day he returned to court, Breslin brought in a check for $100,000 for victim restitution, or anything else the court might order, if the restitution amount is less. signed_order_deposit_100K_into_registry Dkt.48_Surety Bond receipt
According to court documents, “The United States Attorney’s Office has already received more than six requests for restitution from victims of the child pornography materials Breslin possessed, and more restitution requests are expected. The parties have not reached any agreement about the amount of restitution the Court should order, and this stipulation does not indicate that Breslin agrees to pay any particular amount of restitution to any victim in the case. Additionally, a $5,100 special assessment applies in this case, pursuant to 18 U.S.C. §§ 3013 and 3014. As part of the judgment in this case, the District Court may also impose a fine and forfeiture of certain assets.”
Breslin will not enter a guilty plea until his next court date, when he will also be sentenced. According to the U.S. Attorney’s office, he could face “a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, and a fine of $250,000, plus restitution. However, any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the court after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.”
The trial had been scheduled for October 26, but it is now being moved to sometime in December.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Christina McCall and Erin Cornell are prosecuting the case with the assistance of Vanessa Quant, Trina Khadoo, and Michelle Alter Eck. The prosecution is the result of an investigation by HSI, the Silicon Valley Internet Crimes Against Children’s Task Force, and the Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office.Read More
Starting on September 14, 2017, the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office Sexual Assault Unit, in conjunction with the Silicon Valley Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, expanded an outreach program directed at parents, teachers and students on the topics of cyber-bullying, campus sexual assault awareness and online safety for kids. The presentations are aimed at educating parents and teachers on new trends involving social media, as well as providing students with information and tools to improve campus safety and prevent online exploitation.
“The effort was started last year, first at DVC,” according to Senior Deputy District Attorney Paul Graves. “The first presentation in a high school was at Campolindo in Moraga.”
“Since then we’ve been working with police officers and those in our office on the task force,” he continued. “Campus sexual assault awareness is geared toward high school seniors and community colleges, due to the content. The cyberbullying and online safety for kids is for everyone, but mainly targeted to middle school students and parents, with presentations for both,”
“We’ve been working to have somewhere for schools to call to have presentations made for students and parents,” Graves added.
Schools, community organizations and parent/teacher groups who are interested in learning more can call Deputy District Attorney Lauren Whalen at 925-957-8603.Read More
The campaign for Senior Deputy District Attorney Paul Graves, running for Contra Costa District Attorney in next June’s election, announced they will hold a Kickoff Celebration this Friday, September 22. The event will be held at the Pleasant Hill Senior Center, 223 Gregory Lane from 5:30 – 7:30 PM.
Join Paul Graves and his supporters for drinks and tacos to celebrate. All are welcome. RSVP through their Eventbrite page.Read More
Helps pay for “Rapid Response” inspectors, education workshops, legal aid sessions
By Daniel Borsuk
In response to policies and actions by President Trump and to assist illegal immigrant families “facing immediate separation due to deportation,” Contra Costa County supervisors unanimously agreed to use $500,000 of AB 109 funds to cover expenses and match funds from non-profit organizations for the launch of a Stand Together CoCo pilot project in January. Stand Together CoCo 8_16_17
The proposal by the Contra Costa Immigration Rights Alliance, originally submitted earlier this year needed a total of $1,002,750 for the program. The county will use funds from state Assembly Bill 109 automobile license fee revenues. According to their Facebook page, “CCIRA seeks to end ICE collaboration in Contra Costa and to promote immigrant rights, inclusion and a spirt of welcome in cities throughout the county.” Draft CoCoCo Immigrant Legal & Ed P-ship
The effort had already rounded up $585,000 from six non-profit organizations that will help fund Stand Together CoCo operate during its inaugural year of operations consisting of education workshops, legal aid sessions, and the hiring and oversight of 12 Rapid Response inspectors who will be dispatched around the county to observe and take notes on how United States Immigration and Custom Enforcement agents conduct themselves at arrest sites.
According to the staff report, “The proposal requests that the Board of Supervisors authorize the Office of the Public Defender to establish Stand Together CoCo as a pilot project. The requested allocation is $500,000 in FY 17/18 funding to support operations in the January-June 2018 first phase, with a further commitment that the County will provide $500,000 in annual support in each of fiscal years 2018-19 and 2019-20. Working with key local partners, Stand Together CoCo will then use this commitment to generate funding from other public and private sources.”
Presently the program has received letters of commitment from the Y & H Soda Foundation of $275,000, the San Francisco Foundation of $100,000, the East Bay Community Foundation of $50,000, and the Firedoll Foundation of $50,000, and letters of intention from the Richmond Community Foundation of $10,000 and the California Endowment of $100,000.
During the public hearing portion that drew 21 persons speaking in support of the program that Contra Costa County Deputy Public Defender Ali Saidi will oversee, District 2 Supervisor Candace Andersen questioned about the functions of the Rapid Response Dispatch Inspectors and whether they would create potential legal problems with the federal government should Rapid Response Inspectors interfere with ICE agents.
“I don’t want to see ordinary citizens getting in the way of the actions of ICE agents,” Andersen said
In the early going it looked like Andersen was going to possibly cast the lone negative vote, but later on she decided to vote along with her colleagues.
“I’m going to take a leap of faith. I am concerned about public safety,” the supervisor later said before casting a yes vote for the program.
Andersen also voiced concern that this new county-backed immigrant rights program might duplicate services already provided in the county through existing nonprofit organizations like the Contra Costa Crisis Center.
“I don’t want to spend one half million dollars on duplicating services,” said the supervisor who represents a large minority population consisting of Chinese, Indian, and Pakistani residents.
“A Google search doesn’t show what’s really being done,” District 1 Supervisor John Gioia said in response to Andersen’s concern about the potential duplication of legal aid services for immigrants.
Deborah Bernstein of the Jewish Family and Community Services in Walnut Creek said her organization has served 875 county residents seeking immigration legal assistance from January through August.
“These people are living in a high level of fear,” she said.
Since January, Catholic Charities of Contra Costa County has helped 924 people receive legal immigration aid.
“We’ve seen a big increase in people needing help,” said Christopher Martinez of Catholic Charities.
Rubicon Contract Approved
In other action, supervisors approved a $408,750 contract with Rubicon Programs, Inc., an ex-felon nonprofit assistance program, after receiving a letter from Contra Costa Sheriff-Coroner David Livingston that he is now satisfied the one-year contract extension complies with contract protocol. Last week, supervisors had delayed action on the contract because of the sheriff’s concern that the contract did not go through adequate review by a county contract panel.
The practice of assessing $30 a day cost living charges for juveniles serving sentences at the county’s two juvenile facilities – Juvenile Hall in Martinez and Boys Ranch in Discovery Bay, is over. Supervisors voted 5-0 to officially end the bill that parents or legal guardian had to pay the county upon the release of their child for the daily living (meals, lodging, other expenses). Contra Costa County joins other counties like San Francisco, Alameda, Santa Cruz and Los Angeles ditching the juvenile hall daily cost of living fee because it is viewed as being financially retaliatory to parents of children in the juvenile justice system. The county had begun to temporarily cease the billing practice in 2016.
Next week, supervisors will vote on permanently ending the $17 daily electronic surveillance fee of minors in the juvenile justice system.
The county can afford to eliminate the daily cost of living fee and daily electronic surveillance fee because county officials laid off two fulltime juvenile hall clerical positions.
Supervisors also instructed John Kopchik, director of the Conservation and Development Department, to present to the board by next February proposed regulations for short-term rentals in unincorporated areas of the county. Supervisors especially representing Discovery Bay, Kensington, Alamo, and Black Hawk have seen a surge in short-term rentals that have produced parking, noise and other problems. County planners will develop an ordinance by examining what other jurisdictions like San Francisco, San Luis Obispo, Sacramento and other counties have drafted.Read More
25 high schools to hold registration drives
The Contra Costa County Elections Division is coordinating a large-scale registration campaign with 25 Contra Costa County high schools as part of National Voter Registration Day on Tuesday, September 26th.
The Elections Division is providing ready-made registration kits to facilitate on-campus events, which contain everything needed to conduct a registration drive.
In addition to registering 18-year-old students, those who are 16 and 17 years old can also “pre-register” to vote.
“We’re happy to partner with schools across Contra Costa County and help register eligible voters and pre-register soon-to-be-voters,” said Joe Canciamilla, Contra Costa Clerk-Recorder and Registrar of Voters. “As someone who first ran for office at age 17, I can personally attest to the value of registering and becoming involved in the electoral process as soon as one becomes eligible.”
National Voter Registration Day is an annual event to create awareness of voter registration opportunities and to reach those who may not otherwise register.
The Elections Division joins 2,500 organizations across the country in promoting voter registration and celebrating democracy on National Voter Registration Day.
This is the third year Contra Costa Elections has organized National Voter Registration Day efforts with county high schools, and over 1,000 students have registered or pre-registered to vote as a result.
Concord High School civics teacher Andrew Shetterly expressed his excitement, noting that very few of his students are currently registered to vote. “I think it will be powerful to have them all register together. The kits help turn the act of registering into a life event that students can share and it feels official,” Shetterly said.
The Elections Division urges all eligible voters to register or update their registration, which can be done online at www.registertovote.ca.gov.
Interested groups are encouraged to hold their own voter registration events on September 26th. Contact our office at 925-335-7805 for information or visit www.NationalVoterRegistrationDay.org for ideas and details.
National Voter Registration Day is celebrated annually on the 4th Tuesday in September and has been endorsed by the National Association of Secretaries of State and the National Association of State Election Directors.
Each kit contains:
- Voter registration cards
- A voter registration card stand
- Instructions on completing a registration form
- National Voter Registration Day posters
- “I registered to vote” Stickers
- A table cover
- Photo props
- Table decorations
- Sticky hands
- A return envelope for completed registrations