At Regional Early Voting locations on Thursday, February 27th through Monday, March 2nd
The voter registration deadline has passed, but you can still register and vote in one transaction between now and Election Day. Several convenient locations will be available leading up to and during Election Day for you to register to vote and cast your ballot.
Contra Costa Elections Division offers Conditional Voter Registration as a safety net for those who were unable to complete or update their voter registration before the deadline. Those who are already registered may also update their address or political party preference.
“We want make sure that everybody who is eligible to register to vote has ample opportunity to cast their ballot,” said Deborah Cooper, Contra Costa Registrar of Voters.
The Conditional Registration steps include going to an eligible county location, filling out a form that includes your name, address, date of birth and either the last four digits of your Social Security Number or your driver’s license number, and casting your ballot. Conditionally voted ballots are processed once our office completes the verification of the voter registration and confirms no ballot has already been voted. This service is available at the Elections Office, 555 Escobar in Martinez, during normal business hours and on Election Day from 7:00 am to 8:00 pm.
Conditional Voter Registration will also be available at Regional Early Voting locations on Thursday, February 27th through Monday, March 2nd (excluding Sunday). Regional Early Voting is 11:00 am to 7:00 pm on the weekdays and 8:00 am to 5:00 pm Saturday, February 29th. These locations are available to all Contra Costa voters looking to cast their ballot ahead of time and avoid the Election Day rush. Any Contra Costa voter can vote at any one of the Regional Early Voting locations.
• Antioch Water Park, 4701 Lone Tree Way, Antioch
• Richmond Memorial Auditorium, 403 Civic Center Plaza, Richmond
• Hyatt House, 2611 Contra Costa Blvd, Pleasant Hill
Conditional Voter Registration is also available on Election Day at any of the county’s 166 polling places. For more information, call 925-335-7800.Read More
The California High School Mock Trial Team from San Ramon, led by teacher coach Brian Barr, and attorney coaches Larry Lowe and Ken Mifsud, has won Contra Costa County’s annual competition for the third year in a row. The Grizzlies bested Acalanes, who took second place in the final round, and third place Miramonte beat Monte Vista which took fourth place in the Consolation round. (See the complete Mock Trial competition results).
The Cal High team will represent the county at the 39th Annual California State Mock Trial Finals on March 20-22 in Los Angeles, CA.
Mock Trial Overview
The Mock Trial Program is sponsored by the Constitutional Rights Foundation (CRF). Each year CRF creates a mock trial that addresses serious matters facing young people today.
Each team works with teacher and attorney coaches to prepare their version of the criminal case, both from the prosecution and defense perspective. Students assume the roles of trial attorneys, pretrial motion attorneys, witnesses, clerks, and bailiffs. Through these role-playing techniques, students learn about the content and processes of law in an exciting and vibrant way. Also, by studying the case and preparing strategies and arguments for trial, students increase their public speaking skills, analytical ability and team cooperation.
Some high schools offer the Mock Trial Program as a class rather than an extra-curricular activity.
At the State Finals, the winning teams from 36 counties will present People v. Matsumoto, the trial of Bailey Matsumoto. Bailey is the founder of a technology start-up that develops autonomous (self-driving) trucks. Bailey is charged with murder, which is the unlawful killing of another human being with malice afterthought. The pretrial issue involves the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches and seizures.
Courtroom Art Contest
Students also had the opportunity to compete as courtroom artists by participating in the Courtroom Art Contest, a companion program to Mock Trials. As courtroom artists, students accompany their Mock Trial teams and sketch courtroom scenes that are later judged by a team of art judges. Download artist rules and registration information. The winner, Reese Whipple of Miramonte High, will represent Contra Costa County at the state finals.
Courtroom Journalism Contest
Students were given an opportunity to report on a Mock Trial from the perspective of a journalist. As courtroom reporters, students will accompany their school’s Mock Trial teams to the preliminary rounds of the competition. Courtroom reporters will then write and submit one 500-word news article on the trial they attended. Articles were judged by a panel of specialists. The winner, Christine Oh of California High, will represent Contra Costa County at the state finals.
List of Winners
Following is the list of major award winners during the 2020 Contra Costa County competition:
TOP OVERALL WINNING TEAMS
1st Place – California
2nd Place – Acalanes
3rd Place – Miramonte
4th Place – Monte Vista
NEW THIS YEAR!
TEAM SPORTSMANSHIP AWARD
Awarded to the team that exhibited a high degree of ethics, respect, fair play and good attitude (win or not).
Reese Whipple, Miramonte
Christine Oh, California
Judges’ Choice Award Winners (with 2 votes each)
Acalanes Jane Gundacker
Alhambra Simarpreet Kaur
Carondelet Nicole Abudayeh
De Anza Elena Martinez
Kennedy Geselle Alvarado
Richmond Andrea Lopez and Eric Martinez
Judges’ Choice Honorable Mention
Acalanes Jamie Lattin, Adam Machajewski and Yicheng Yao
Alhambra Nivia Buttar and Tess Kempner
California Daniela Kuthy-Cervantes and Sarah Zhang
Campolindo Sarah Downing, Madeleine Landau, Nina Naffziger, Maia West and Danielle Whisnant
Carondelet Laura Bocek
De Anza Kilty Huskisson, Irene Kou and Tyler Quijada
Deer Valley Janae Burks, Katherine Muster, Caitlin Todd and SavannahTurnage
Dougherty Valley Elijah Bradford, Pradyun Singh, Neha Vasagiri and Gayathri Viswanth
El Cerrito Audrey Dowling, Zayn Martaza and Simone Parisi
Hercules Kevin Gill
Heritage Jacki Fortner, Lexi Ojeda and Tori Renner
Kennedy Emani Mason and Viridiana Ayala
Las Lomas Annalise Anderson, Dina Mirmotalebisohi and Cameron Pitzak
Miramonte Adrian Nibley, Preston Nibley, Sarah Svahn, Eva Winter and Chaya Tong
Monte Vista Cameron Boles, Valeria Caveroegusquiza, Liam Crowley and Hannah Nance
Richmond John Olivarez and Jahzeel Perez
See the list of all 2020 award winners here.Read More
Two patients, who were not infected in Contra Costa, sent from Travis Air Force Base to local hospitals
Contra Costa Health Services (CCHS) today, Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020 confirmed two cases of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in patients being treated at hospitals in the county.
The patients were transported to Contra Costa County early this morning from Travis Air Force Base in Solano County, where some international travelers have been recently quarantined because they may have been exposed to the virus.
The patients, who were among the recent U.S. evacuees from the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan, are receiving care in Contra Costa due to a lack of space at facilities closer to the base that can properly isolate them to minimize the risk of spreading the virus. While the two patients tested positive for COVID-19, they have yet to show any symptoms of the virus, such as fever and difficulty breathing.
The hospital and public health officials are working closely with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) and the California Department of Public Heath (CDPH) to ensure the patients receive excellent care and that all procedures are followed to protect the community from COVID-19.
“Our county’s healthcare system is prepared to handle COVID-19,” said Dr. Chris Farnitano, Contra Costa County Health Officer. “We have been working with our hospital partners to follow safety protocols to keep patients and healthcare workers safe and minimize the risk of the virus spreading in Contra Costa.”
The patients did not become infected in Contra Costa County. CCHS will not release further details about the patients to protect their medical privacy.
“We’re not identifying the hospitals for privacy,” said Will Harper, the Acting Communications Officer for Contra Costa Public Health
A suspected case of the Novel Coronavirus at the Contra Costa Regional Medical Center that had staff concerned about protocols, earlier this month, was of a Martinez woman who had returned from China two days before. But that was confirmed the following week to not be. (See related article).
Asked why the patients were brought here and if they were from Contra Costa County, Dr. Farnitano responded, “the Travis facility is designated by the CDC as a quarantine facility – someone who might have been exposed but doesn’t have symptoms – but they’re not set up to be an isolation facility for people experiencing symptoms. Solano County has maximized its isolation rooms, so they’re reaching out to other, neighboring counties.”
Asked how many isolation rooms there are in the county, he said, “available rooms vary from day to day. Some are used by other patients for other conditions. We have a dozen or so rooms across the various hospitals.”
Asked if we can expect more patients brought to the county, Dr. Farnitano said, “It’s possible, if the tests return from the CDC from the Travis quarantine travelers, we could see more patients that need to be placed in local hospitals.”
“The hospitals we have been working with in the county to be prepared for this, they’re familiarizing their staff with the CDC protocols and procedures to properly protect their staff and patients,” he added.
Asked if people should be concerned, Dr. Farnitano stated, “there’s no vaccine, but most people have very mild cases. It’s the elderly and those with other medical conditions that are most susceptible.”
“The mortality rate seems to be higher than the seasonal flu,” he continued. “But we don’t know how many have symptoms. Most people seem to get just a mild illness.”
“We are working very closely with the CDC, on conference calls with them several times a week and keeping up with their latest recommendations,” Dr. Farnitano stated. “One encouraging sign is we don’t see a lot of children in other countries who are getting the severe symptoms of the disease for the most part,”
The best way to reduce your risk of becoming infected with a respiratory virus, such as COVID-19, is to practice good hygiene:
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
- Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer when soap and water is not available
- People who are sick should always cover their coughs and sneezes using a tissue or the crook of their elbow; wash your hands after using a tissue to wipe your nose or mouth
- People who are sick should stay home from work or school until they are well
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with your unwashed hands
Contra Costa residents should contact their healthcare providers if they have symptoms and had close contact with someone with symptoms who traveled in the last 14 days from China.
All travelers to the U.S. from China since Feb. 2 have been asked to self-quarantine under the guidance of their local public health department for 14 days.
Visit cchealth.org/coronavirus to learn more about COVID-19.
Allen Payton contributed to this report.
By Concord Police Department
On Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2020, just after 3:10 p.m., Concord Officers responded to a fight on Meadow Lane near Riley Court. When the first officer arrived on scene, he discovered the victim lying on street with multiple stab wounds. The suspect fled the area but, was located by one of our observant officers half-a-mile away. Several witnesses positively identified the suspect, 25-year-old Concord resident Jose Mario Calonge Aguilar, as being responsible for repeatedly stabbing the victim. At this time, it appears the attack was unprovoked.
The victim was transported to the hospital and is currently in stable condition in the Intensive Care Unit.
The Concord Major Crimes Unit actively investigated this case. Some of this brutal attack was captured on surveillance and shows numerous vehicles stopped in traffic while the victim was being assaulted.
Friday, Feb. 21, 2020 CASE UPDATE: The suspect, Jose Mario Aguilar, was located by one of our officers and positively identified by several witnesses. Much of this brutal attack was captured on home video surveillance systems located in the neighborhood, which assisted Concord Major Crimes Unit Detectives with their investigation.
We wanted to let you know that yesterday the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office filed charges against Aguilar for attempted murder (P.C. 664/187), and assault with a deadly weapon (P.C. 245(a)1) with enhancements. Aguilar will be held in custody on a $1.19 million bail. As we previously posted, the victim in this case is in stable condition. Thank you to the community members who called 9-1-1 and who assisted us with our investigation.
If you were in the area and witnessed any portion of it please contact Detective Loercher at (925) 603-5922 or if you wish to remain anonymous you can call (925) 603-5836 and refer to case #20-2163.
By Concord Police Department
Back on November 6, 2019, we introduced you to Preston Brumley. The Concord Police Department received credible information from our friends at the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (I.C.A.C) and the Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office, that Brumley was in possession of Child Pornography. Members of the Concord Police Special Victims Unit served a search warrant and located Child Pornography on Brumley’s computer. Brumley was arrested then released pending forensic download of all the computers Brumley was in possession of. That forensic download revealed that Brumley possessed more than 60,000 images and videos of child pornography.
On February 10, 2020, the case was presented to the Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office, who filed felony charges against Brumley, who made his first court appearance yesterday.
We would like to thank our associates at the I.C.A.C. Task Force and the District Attorney’s Office for their help in this case and for their collaboration, inclusion, and tireless efforts to keep children safe from people like Preston Brumley.Read More
Working for auto body shops in Concord, Richmond and Pittsburg
The Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office and the California Department of Insurance partnered to conduct an undercover operation targeting auto repair insurance fraud in Contra Costa County. Today investigators arrested the last two of four employees at four different auto repair shops caught in the sting operation.
Auto repair shops provide estimates to customers for insurance claims knowing that the customer’s ultimate decision on whether to proceed with the repair, and pay for it, may depend on the insurance company approving and paying out for the claim. This can create an incentive for the estimator to overlook or even encourage a customer known to be committing a fraud. Accepting business with knowledge or reckless disregard for the fact that a customer intends to commit insurance fraud is a felony punishable by up to three years in prison and an additional fine of up to $50,000.
An undercover officer visited several auto body repair shops in Contra Costa County and told estimators that they wanted to claim and repair pre-existing damage on a new insurance policy initiated after the damage occurred. The officer requested a repair estimate from the shop to assist with the false insurance claim.
Four individuals have been charged in the sting operation including:
Kyle Coburn (30-years-old) of AW Collision in Concord;
Marco Hernandez (49-years-old) of 101 Auto Body in Richmond;
Estephanie Gonzalez-Marquez (26-years-old) of Tepa Autobody in Pittsburg;
Vu Hoang (33-years-old) of Kee’s Auto Body in Concord.
The District Attorney’s Office also reminds consumers to be wary of listening to anyone who suggests lying to an insurance company related to an insurance claim. Providing false or misleading information in support of an insurance claim is a felony punishable by up to five years state prison and an additional fine of up to $50,000.
Anyone with information about possible auto insurance fraud can report that information to the District Attorney’s Office via email at DA-ReportFraud@contracostada.orgRead More
By Jimmy Lee, Director of Public Affairs, Contra Costa County Office of the Sheriff
On Thursday, February 20, 2020, at about 3:35 PM, Lafayette and Walnut Creek Police arrested 41-year-old Brendan Gray at his home in Alamo. Gray is a suspect in a series of recent bank robberies that occurred in Contra Costa County.
On February 19, 2020, at about 3:46 PM, a bank robbery happened at the Wells Fargo Bank on the 3600 block of Mt. Diablo Boulevard in Lafayette. During the investigation, Detectives determined that robbery was connected to one that occurred at the Wells Fargo Bank on Moraga Way in Orinda on February 12, 2020, and at a Wells Fargo Bank in Walnut Creek on February 1, 2020.
Lafayette Police Detectives, assisted by Danville Police, Contra Costa County Office of the Sheriff, and Walnut Creek Police were able to identify a suspect vehicle and identify Brendan Gray as the suspect in the robberies.
An arrest warrant was obtained and with the assistance of Walnut Creek PD, Gray was taken into custody without incident. Gray was booked into the Martinez Detention Facility on three counts of first degree robbery. He is being held in lieu of $300,000 bail.
The Lafayette Police Department is asking anyone with additional information regarding these cases to contact Detectives at (925) 283-3680 or (925) 299-3234 or email Sergeant Rossberg at email@example.com. Tips could also be emailed to the Lafayette Police Department at: 94549TIP@gmail.comRead More
WARNING: Graphic content
By Scott Alonso, Public Information Officer, Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office
Martinez, Calif. – On Friday February 14, 2020, Justin Arthur Cook, a 34-year-old Walnut Creek resident, pleaded guilty to one count of arranging to meet a minor to engage in sex acts. Cook was immediately sentenced to four years in state prison by the Honorable David Goldstein and ordered to register as a sex offender for life.
On August 4, 2019, Cook used a social media site to inquire about family incest. An undercover police officer contacted Cook and they began to message each other. During the conversation, and over the next four days, Cook learned the undercover officer had a 7-year-old daughter and made repeated statements he wanted to sexually abuse the young girl. On August 8, 2019, Cook traveled to Target in Walnut Creek to purchase a bottle of “lube” and then to an apartment complex in Walnut Creek to meet the child. Cook was arrested and admitted to communicating with the undercover officer.
On August 12, 2019, Cook was charged by the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office and he has remained in custody since the date of his arrest. Cook will begin to serve his sentence immediately. Deputy District Attorney Kate Jewett prosecuted the case on behalf of the People.
The investigation was conducted by a multi-agency Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, which is managed by the San Jose Police Department. In Contra Costa County, detectives and investigators from the Walnut Creek, Pleasant Hill, Martinez, San Ramon, Concord and Moraga Police Departments, the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office, United States Secret Service, Homeland Security Investigations, the Contra Costa County Probation Department, and Inspectors from the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office participate in the task force. The District Attorney’s Office would like to thank the Concord Police Department’s Violence Suppression Unit for the substantial assistance they provided with the investigation.
Case information: People v. Cook, Docket Number 05-191646-9Read More
PC Matic CEO calls on nation’s newspapers to help combat threat of cyberattacks
The financially hobbled newspaper industry already faced with downsizing, needs to join the fight against the growing cyberattack crisis, a leading ransomware industry executive said Wednesday.
Noting that struggling United States newspapers can play a vital economic role in their communities, PC Matic Chief Executive Officer Rob Cheng on Wednesday called on the nation’s newspaper publishers and editors to play a bigger role in combatting the rising threat of cyberattacks that can strike business, government, schools, hospitals, or all forms of enterprise.
“The American press are the first responders in every city, town, county, and school district that can raise the public conscience and understanding about the threats of ransomware attacks in our society,” said Cheng.
Cheng announced an unusual proposal whereby the U.S. media would work with the FBI and other law enforcement agencies in combatting cyberattacks in many activities of American business and life.
Whether such a cooperative information feed between federal-local law enforcement authorities and the press could feasibly and legally work is unclear. At least with this observer, it might infringe on the freedom of the press amendment issues if the FBI inquires where and how a news reporter compiled information concerning an alleged cyberattack case. This might present constitutional legal questions.
The Contra Costa County Library System was a victim of a cyber security attack, just last month. It affected all library branches and the Martinez administrative offices, which experienced a network outage due to a ransomware attack. The Library worked with the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office and District Attorney’s Office to investigate the attack. (See related article).
Cheng could not address how the United States press can respond to this growing threat to every sector of American business and society when the American newspaper industry is financially under stress.
The news industry has numerically declined with one in five local newspapers closing since 2004 due in part to advertising going to online news startups, according to a 2019 University of North Carolina study.
When asked what the ransomware war has cost United States business, Jeff Gaynor, a retired Army Colonel securities communications officer speaking on behalf of PC Matic, answered, “We don’t know what cyberware attacks have actually cost the U.S. business sector. It’s been swept under the rug.”
But Gaynor said United State insurance companies need to do a better job of controlling the huge $1 billion ransomware payouts to policyholders.
“This is a risk-based decision, you betcha!” said Gaynor.Read More