By Jimmy Lee, Director of Public Affairs, Contra Costa County Office of the Sheriff
Detectives from the Contra Costa County Office of the Sheriff continue to investigate a death that was reported on September 3, 2019.
On September 3 at about 8:56 AM, Delta Station Deputy Sheriffs responded to a call regarding a possible dead body. Deputies located a deceased female adult near Byron Highway and Herdlyn Road in Byron.
The body was later identified as 56-year-old Beverly Johnson. An autopsy was performed. The cause of death is still being investigated.
Johnson was a transient who was said to hitch rides around California. She was found wearing a white shirt and black sweatpants. She is described as a white female, 5’, 6”, approximately 115 pounds, with brown colored hair and eyes.
Anyone with any information on this case is asked to contact the Office of the Sheriff Investigation Division at (925) 313-2600. For any tips, email: email@example.com or call (866) 846-3592 to leave an anonymous voice message.
Contra Costa Animal Services (CCAS) is offering reduced cost adoptions for dogs and cats between now and September 30th to help find forever homes for the hundreds of animals at the County’s shelters. During this period, the adoption fee for dogs over 25lbs and black cats/kittens, or partially black cats/kittens, will be reduced to $20. Interested adopters can take advantage of this adoption promotion by visiting CCAS’ Martinez and Pinole adoption centers to meet animals and adopt their new family member.
“Typical adoption costs range from $86-$264 at CCAS, depending on the animal, which makes this promotion a huge incentive for potential adopters,” says CCAS spokesperson, Steve Burdo. “Our hope is that the community will take advantage of this great opportunity and help us find forever homes for the animals in our care.”
The reduced cost adoption fee includes the cost of adoption, spay/neuter surgery, microchip and vaccinations. The discounted adoption fee does not include licensing or any refundable deposits that may be required for spay/neuter surgery.
To view animals available for adoption, visit www.ccasd.org.
CCAS Adoption Locations
Martinez Adoption Center – 4800 Imhoff Pl., Martinez, CA 94553
Pinole Adoption Center – 910 San Pablo Ave., Pinole, CA 94564
For more information, contact Contra Costa County Animal Services’ Media and Community Relations Manager Steve Burdo at 925-393-6836, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The biennial effort known as Stand Down on the Delta to support homeless and at-risk veterans returns to Antioch at the Contra Costa Event Park (fairgrounds) September 20-23. This is a great opportunity for the community to show appreciation for their service to our country and to receive the reward of helping others.
Veterans will be given dental, medical, and counseling services, plus legal and VA claims assistance. They will also receive clothes, haircuts, shaves, meals, and sleeping accommodations. Real estate and banking leaders will be available to help the veterans possibly purchase a home.
Delta Veterans Group needs the community’s help to provide the most possibilities for our veterans. There are opportunities for professional services in the fields of medical, dental, legal, and more. See volunteer options under categories of general volunteer and/or professional services at https://www.deltaveteransgroup.org/stand-down-on-the-delta. There is a place for every person or service club to make a difference in the lives of our Veterans.
The Contra Costa Event Park is located at 1201 W. 10th Street in Antioch.
Propose ban on e-cigarettes, $1.5 million for transitional housing, $600 million for Medi-Cal contract with Kaiser
By Daniel Borsuk
One hundred Contra Costa County social workers won a hard-fought 3.44 percent salary increase from the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday that reconvened after taking a five-week summer break.
On a 4-0 vote supervisors approved the consent item granting the pay hike for social workers. Social workers will see the salary increases go into effect Oct. 1.
An absent board chair John Gioia of Richmond was attending a statewide supervisors meeting.
“We are pleased and we are surprised by the board of supervisors vote,” said social worker Carmen Rivera, a union member of the Service Employees International Union Local 1021 that represents 100 employees.
Board Vice Chair Candace Andersen of Danville said the reason the board decided to move on the long sought demand by SEIU was to finally bring county social workers salaries up to Bay Area salary levels. A recent survey found Contra Costa social workers were 3.44 percent below mean of comparable salaries of Bay Area social workers.
“This has been an on-going issue and finally we had some flexibility in the budget to do something about it,” Andersen said.
Unlike Alameda County that draws additional revenues from a sales tax and can pay social workers better salaries, Andersen said Contra Costa County must pay social worker positions from general funds.
Currently, the county has a 12 percent vacancy rate in its Employment and Human Services Department with 409 unfilled positions, the highest in the Bay Area.
It is too early to tell if the pay increase will turn the tide in permanently improving the earning power of social workers in the county, but it might be the start of good things to come.
OK Pay Hikes for Probation Workers, Juvenile Institution Officer
County probation workers and supervisors under contract with the represented by the Deputy Sheriffs Association have agreed to a new four-year labor agreement with the county that increase salaries 5 percent every July 1 on 2019, 2020, 2021, and 2022.
Ban on E-Cigarettes Proposed
An idea to impose a countywide ban on e-cigarettes, the vaporized flavored tobacco product that is heavily marketed to teenagers and is reportedly linked with respiratory and cancer cases around the nation, was proposed by Supervisor Karen Mitchoff of Pleasant Hill.
Health hazards tied to teens who have used e-cigarettes have been recently popping up around the nation and Mitchoff believes Contra Costa County Health officials should report what is occurring locally. “There’s been so much bad publicity about vaping products and the health risks associated with them for our youth, I think we need to have a discussion on that topic and maybe impose a ban on this product,” the supervisor said.
There was no further discussion on the topic. A date has not been set when the report or issue will be presented for discussion.
Supervisors Approve $1.5 Million Contract With Interfaith Transitional Housing
Supervisors approved a $1.5 million contract with Contra Costa Interfaith Transitional Housing Inc. to provide temporary supportive housing services to homeless Contra Costa County residents to assist CalWORKS families achieve self-sufficiency and housing stability. The contract will be in effect from August 1, 2019 through June 30, 2020.
County Inks $600 Million Medi-Cal Contract Extension With Kaiser
Supervisors approved a Medi-Cal contract extension with Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc. effective September 30, 2019 to September 30, 2021 for additional Medi-Cal services for Contra Costa Health Plan members enrolled in the Kaiser Health Plan. The supervisors’ action was consent vote.
Fire Chief Broschard’s Report
Contra Costa County Fire Protection District’s Lewis T. Broschard IlI’s report to supervisors, who also serve in the capacity of the county fire commission, the chief reported about the fire season:
“To date, this fire season has been mild across the state. There are estimates stating that up to 90 percent fewer acres have burned compared with the same time last year.
In our District, there have been about the same number of fires as compared with last year, and we have succeeded in keeping these relatively small fires small. There have been three significant wildland fires in the east Contra Costa Fire Protection District within the last 60 days, and we provided substantial resources for an extended period. We now are entering what is normally the most active and dangerous period of our local fire season but with a significantly higher fuel load than in recent years. We all should be reminded there is still considerable potential for large and destructive wildfires until consistent rains begin to fall in the area.”
By Scott Alonso, Public Information Officer, Contra Costa District Attorney
Yesterday, Monday, Sept. 9, 2019, a Contra Costa County grand jury indictment was unsealed with 11 felonies against defendant Victor Martinez, Jr., a 36-year-old resident of Pittsburg. The allegations include possession of a controlled substance with a firearm, possession for sale of methamphetamine and cocaine, possession of 650 rounds of ammunition, and a machine gun. He also had multiple firearms in his possession and police recovered $16,244 in cash from his residence.
Martinez, Jr. was initially charged in a criminal complaint on May 9, 2019. Martinez Jr. is also a convicted felon whom is not legally able to own or possess a firearm or ammunition. In 2010, he was convicted for carrying a loaded firearm as the non-registered owner.
Earlier this year, members of the Pittsburg Police Department served a search warrant at Martinez Jr.’s residence. Officers found multiple firearms in the defendant’s possession. The firearms recovered at the scene were a Smith and Wesson .38 handgun, Colt MK IV pistol, Taurus pistol, Glock .40 pistol, PWA rifle 5.56mm caliber, and a Berretta pistol.
The money recovered from the scene was forfeited in a civil asset forfeiture procedure under state law. No valid claim was made for the money.
Martinez, Jr. appeared for an arraignment in Department 3 of the Contra Costa County Superior Court before the Honorable Patricia Scanlon. Martinez Jr. pleaded not guilty to the charges alleged in the indictment. Deputy District Attorney Nichelle Holmes is the prosecutor assigned to the case on behalf of the People. DDA Holmes is with our Community Violence Reduction Unit.
Case information: People v. Victor Martinez Jr., Docket Number 05-191613-9
A half-hour voter registration training will be just one of many voter services featured on Saturday, September 21 from 3:00 to 4:30 p.m. at the Pittsburg Library, 80 Power Avenue in Pittsburg.
The League of Women Voters of Diablo Valley will present ways for those interested in improving our election process and educating voters to get involved. Meet Joe Canciamilla, Contra Costa County Clerk and Registrar of Voters, who will explain the County’s push for voting by mail to make it easier for commuters and others to cast their ballots. Learn about Voters Edge to view online information about candidates and ballot issues. The League trains volunteers to describe the pros and cons of ballot measures to community groups and to act as timers and moderators for TV taped candidate roundtables.
The meeting coincides with the National Day of Registration on September 24. The event is free to the public and parking is available at the Pittsburg Library. The Library is also three-tenths of a mile from the Pittsburg Center BART Station.
For more information contact the League of Women Voters of Diablo Valley at email@example.com.
The “up-and-coming player” also makes it to second round of U.S. Open Junior Championship
By Allen Payton
In the first round of the U.S. Open Tennis Championships, local tennis standout, Katie Volynets of Walnut Creek, faced the eventual champion, Bianca Andreescu of Ontario, Canada, on Wednesday, August 27 at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, Queens, New York City. She lost the match 2-6, 4-6 but according to Andreescu played “really well”. (See video highlights of their match, here.)
Andreescu went on to beat six-time U.S. Open Women’s Singles Champion, Serena Williams in the finals on Saturday, Sept. 7 to win the tournament.
Volynets received a wild card into the women’s draw after winning the Billie Jean King USTA National Championships Girls’ 18s singles title earlier, last month. (See related Herald article)
On Tuesday, Sept. 4, Volynets was also able to advance to the second round of the US Open Junior Championships, after defeating Carole Monnet of France, 6-1, 6-3. She failed to advance in that tournament losing the match to No. 4 seed Maria Camila Osorio Serrano of Colombia 6-4, 6-4, who faces American qualifier Alexandra Yepifanova of Florida, in the championship, later today, Sunday, Sept. 8.
In her match against Andreescu, which lasted 1 hour and 29 minutes, Volynets held her own on many, multiple volley points, forcing the ultimate champion to work hard, running back and forth across the court. Volynets was up 4-3 in the second set, but, Andreescu rallied to bring it to deuce point and then won the game, breaking Volynets’ serve and tying the set at 4-4. She went on to win the next two games against Volynets, securing her victory.
According to the Sporting News, Andreescu had to overcome “32 unforced errors – twice as many as the American Volynets – to win in straight sets.” Another Sporting News article claimed “it was hardly a walk in the park for Andreescu. The Canadian had to overcome some early jitters and sloppy play to claim victory in her first-ever match in the main draw at Flushing Meadows.”
“Committing 16 unforced errors in the opening set, Andreescu gave Volynets plenty of opportunity to stick around in the early goings of a match-up that pitted the 15th-seeded Canuck against the World No. 473 from Walnut Creek, Calif. Fortunately for Andreescu, Volynets’ inexperience shone through and the Mississauga, Ont., native was able to successfully convert three break points en route to a 6-2 first-set win that was more impressive on the scoreboard than the court.”
According to that same article, Andreescu “was visibly frustrated at times, especially with 17-year-old Volynets growing in confidence with each passing point. The young American matched her more fancied opponent for most of the second frame, with both women holding serve through the first eight games without giving up a single break point opportunity.”
In a post-match press conference, the 2019 champion had very positive things to say about Volynets.
“It’s my first round, first match of the tournament, so maybe I was a bit rusty at the beginning,” Andreescu said. “I’m also playing someone younger than me, so, that’s not the best scenario. I’m usually the young one. But, it’s nice to see these up-and-coming players play on big stages like this.”
Andreescu is 19 and Volynets, who started playing tennis when she was just five, is 17.
“Katie, my opponent, she was playing really well. She was getting to a lot of balls. She’s an incredible fighter,” Andreescu continued. “That’s what I told her after the match and I’m sure it’s going to get her places.”
“There were long rallies. I was a little bit nervous coming into the match, too. So, I think, maybe that kind of showed,” she said.
When asked by a reporter to “take a moment and talk more about” Katie, Andreescu responded, “I think she has a very bright future. If she works hard and keeps improving her game, I think she can be very dangerous to a lot of the players. She moves really well. She doesn’t show any negative emotion, which is very impressive. Yeah, I think she can do very big things.”
“Because she gets to so many balls, I wanted to hit the right ball at the right time,” she added about playing Volynets.
“Ever heard of a better tennis name?” a reporter asked.
“Oh, volley nets. Oh, yeah. I never even, like put two and two together. Yeah, that’s crazy, Andreescu responded with a laugh. “She has a very nice name. Very ironic.”
By Pittsburg Police Department
He was supposed to protect and secure the place, not loot it.
Last week, Officer Vasquez took a grand theft report from the Pittsburg Transfer Station, where the night shift security guard for the business was caught on camera stealing $4000 cash from the cash box. The following night when the security guard returned to work, officers contacted him and arrested him. The suspect admitted to stealing the cash and stated he still had $3,200 hidden in his vehicle, which officers located and recovered.
By Scott Alonso, Public Information Officer, Contra Costa County District Attorney
Yesterday, Sept. 5, 2019, 44-year-old Pittsburg resident Jenelle Renee Silva was convicted by a Contra Costa County jury of six felonies, including the embezzlement of $247,456.08 from her former employer Bay Area Washout Systems located in Pittsburg. In addition, the jury found Ms. Silva committed the aggravated, white collar crime enhancements of two or more felonies involving a loss of over $100,000.
The Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office previously prosecuted Ms. Silva for embezzling $80,000 from the insurance company where she worked before Bay Area Washout Systems. Accordingly, she had a prior felony conviction in 2011 for embezzlement at the time of her conduct in this case.
In approximately 2012, Bay Area Washout Systems elevated Jenelle Silva to office manager and she obtained access to the company’s books and records, including the accounting software known as Quickbooks. One of her job duties included printing checks for the partners of the company to sign.
From 2012 through January 2017, she printed additional checks written out in her own name. She traced the managing partner’s signature onto those checks and then deposited them. She also used a company credit card to pay her daughter’s phone bill.
The evidence showed that the defendant tried to delete any evidence of her crimes by removing the records for the checks from Quickbooks entirely or changing the entries to make the checks look like legitimate business expenses. A forensic accountant determined that Silva spent the stolen funds on personal expenses such as groceries, gasoline, Starbucks, and movies.
Silva also was charged with the identity theft of both Bay Area Washout Systems and Thomas Koebel, General Manager for the company, and used it “to obtain, and attempt to obtain credit, goods, services, real property, and medical information” without his consent, according to the charging document, which can be viewed, here: Indictment Silva December 2018 An effort to reach Koebel for comment was unsuccessful prior to publication.
Deputy District Attorney Jeremy Seymour of the Special Operations Division prosecuted the case on behalf of the People. Sentencing is set for October 18 at 1:30 p.m. before the Honorable Judge Castellanos. Jenelle Silva faces up to five years in state prison for this conduct.
Case information: People v. Jenelle Silva, Docket Number 05-182401-0
Allen Payton contributed to this report.