OAKLAND – Anthony Keslinke, 48, of Danville, was sentenced to four years in prison today for his leadership role in a large-scale bank fraud conspiracy and a separate money laundering conspiracy, announced United States Attorney Brian J. Stretch, Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent in Charge John J. Martin, and Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation, Special Agent in Charge Michael T. Batdorf.
Keslinke pleaded guilty in May of 2015 to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. In pleading guilty, Keslinke admitted that he used straw buyers to purchase real estate throughout Northern California between 2011 and 2014. Keslinke identified properties, including his own properties, that were potential candidates for a “short sale.” A “short sale” is a sale of real estate in which the sale proceeds are less than the balance owed on the mortgage loan pertaining to the property and often occurs when a borrower cannot pay the mortgage loan.
In furtherance of the scheme, Keslinke submitted offers to the financial institutions on behalf of straw buyers. In order to induce a bank to accept a short sale offer, Keslinke would draft fraudulent financial hardship letters and submit them on behalf of the seller of a property. In addition, in order to give the appearance to the financial institutions that the properties were worth significantly less than true fair market value, Keslinke often altered engineering and pest reports associated with the properties. Moreover, in furtherance of his scheme, Keslinke often altered bank account documents to create the appearance that the straw buyers had sufficient funds to purchase the properties in cash. Once a financial institution accepted a particular property for a short sale, Keslinke used his own funds to purchase the property in the name of the straw buyer. After a short sale was completed on a particular property, Keslinke maintained control of the property and often sold the property for a significant financial gain. Keslinke admitted using this mortgage fraud scheme to orchestrate the short sale of properties in Danville, Walnut Creek, and Kings Beach, California.
Keslinke also admitted that between August of 2013 and February of 2014, he met on multiple occasions with an undercover agent purporting to be a drug dealer. Keslinke accepted a total of $550,000 from the undercover agent. In an attempt to conceal the true source of the funds, Keslinke repeatedly deposited the money received from the undercover agent into business bank accounts under his control. Keslinke then attempted to launder the money by wiring it from his business bank accounts to an account controlled by the undercover agent. Keslinke routinely kept 8-10% of the money provided to him from the undercover agent as a fee for his services.
The sentence was handed down by United States District Judge Jon S. Tigar. In addition to the prison term, Judge Tigar also ordered the defendant to pay a forfeiture judgment in the amount of $2,086,405 and a fine of $50,000. Keslinke also agreed to forfeit $1,722,426 in cash seized from his residence and his bank accounts. Judge Tigar also ordered Keslinke to pay $1,427,916 in restitution to the victims of the charged crimes. Judge Tigar also sentenced Keslinke to a three-year period of supervised release.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Aaron Wegner and David Countryman are prosecuting the case with the assistance of Vanessa Vargas and Carolyn Jusay. The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the DEA and IRS. The Contra Costa Sheriff’s Office and Livermore Police Department also provided assistance during the investigation. The investigation was conducted and funded by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), a multi-agency task force that coordinates long-term narcotics trafficking investigations.Read More
District Attorney Mark Peterson announced that his office is collaborating with local law enforcement agencies, the County’s Zero Tolerance for Human Trafficking Coalition, Family Justice Centers, and community-based organizations to raise awareness of human trafficking and slavery, provide services and support to victims and bring traffickers to justice. Contra Costa County includes Human Trafficking in its “Zero Tolerance Initiative” and will coordinate with similar initiatives in neighboring counties such as Alameda.
Peterson notes that such coordinated efforts are important to combat the many forms of modern-day slavery and human trafficking. The FBI has identified California as one of the nation’s top four destination states for trafficked persons. According to Peterson, Contra Costa County is a natural corridor for human trafficking activities with its linkage to major metropolitan areas like Oakland and San Francisco via public transportation (BART) and its accessibility to Los Angeles and Sacramento via major highways such as 680, 80 and 5 (via Hwy 4). Though human trafficking is illegal, victims often do not know where to turn for help and community members may not know where to report suspicious situations.
As part of the County’s awareness-raising efforts, Peterson announced a “Day of Action” to enforce Senate Bill 1193 (SB1193). This law, which was passed in 2013, requires specified businesses including airports, train stations, truck stops, certain bars, urgent care centers, farm labor contractors, and certain massage parlors to post notices listing information about human trafficking and a hotline number for the National Human Trafficking Resource Center.
Today, Saturday, April 23, the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office and police agencies in Walnut Creek, Concord, Pleasant Hill and Martinez are personally contacting some of the businesses covered by SB1193 and provide posters that include hotline numbers to seek help or report unlawful activity.
For additional information regarding SB 1193, please visit the Attorney General’s website at www.oag.ca.gov or contact your local law enforcement to report any possible slavery or human trafficking activity.Read More
WHAT: Forecasting the Future – Navigating the Internet of Things: New Opportunities and Risks
This Thursday, April 21, The Internet of Things will intersect with philanthropy, when prominent insurance professionals gather in Walnut Creek to discuss technological disruption while benefiting local Alameda/Contra Costa charities. During the Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation’s CAPP Educational Forum, local insurance leaders will gather to discuss opportunities/risks during a panel entitled, “Global Technology Platforms and their Role in the Disruption of the Traditional Employer/Employee Relationship: Employee? Contractor? Who Decides?”
WHO: Featured speakers and panelists include:
- Lex Baugh, President of Liability & Financial Lines, AIG
- Mark Locke, Vice President Worldwide Manufacturing and Government Contractors, Chubb
- Davidson Pattiz, COO, The Zenith Insurance Company
- Jeff Phelps, CEO, iWorkGlobal
- William Weissman, Attorney & Shareholder, Littler Mendelson
Proceeds from the IICF CAPP Educational Forum will benefit child abuse prevention programs serving Contra Costa and Alameda Counties.
WHEN: April 21, 2016 – 8:30 am to 12:00 pm (Continental Breakfast at 7:30 am)
WHERE: Lesher Center for the Arts, 1601 Civic Dr. Walnut Creek, CA 94596Read More
The following four teachers have been named as the 2016-2017 Contra Costa County Teacher of the Year (TOY) Finalists: Shauna Hawes, Mt. Diablo Unified School District; Gina Minder-Maldonado, Oakley Union Elementary School District; Summer Rodriguez, Liberty Union High School District; and Joyce Rooks, San Ramon Valley Unified School District. Two of these four finalists will be chosen in late September, and will represent Contra Costa County in the California State TOY Program.
Shauna Hawes teaches computer applications/technology to grades 6-8 at Valley View Middle School, in Pleasant Hill. The 18-year teacher has been with the Mt. Diablo Unified School District during her entire teaching career. Prior to her current position, Hawes taught 6th grade core (English, history, and reading) at Valley View. Before coming to Valley View, she taught 5th grade (all subjects) at Hidden Valley Elementary, in Martinez, from 1998-2007.
Gina Minder-Maldonado will soon be finishing her 25th year of teaching. For the past 17 years, Minder-Maldonado has taught 2nd grade at Oakley Elementary School, in Oakley. Her former teaching experience includes preschool and transitional kindergarten grades, as well as elementary after school and summer school instruction.
Summer Rodriguez has been an educator for 16 years at Liberty High School, in Brentwood. Rodriguez has taught all levels of high school English, AP English language and composition, and AP English literature and composition. In addition to her education duties, she has served as director of the school’s student activities.
Joyce Rooks began her career in teaching after serving as a senior programmer analyst/senior systems analyst for Mervyns, as well as an independent computer-training consultant. She is currently in her 13th year teaching for the San Ramon Valley Unified School District, where she has served as an instructor for Dougherty Valley High, California High, and Coyote Creek Elementary. She has been teaching first and second grades for the past five years at Creekside Elementary, in Danville.
The county’s TOY program is directed by the Contra Costa County Office of Education (CCCOE). With such a high caliber of teaching professionals to draw from, the CCCOE’s TOY program uses a three-stage selection process, with a point and percentage system to determine the final candidates as follows:
I Application Screening:
On April 8, a committee of 14 judges, representing the county’s education, business, and public-sector partners meticulously reviewed the applications submitted by the school districts. This committee independently rated each application. After the application screening and scoring was completed, these four teachers were selected to advance to the next two phases as TOY finalists.
II Classroom Observation and Interview:
During the months of April and early May, a small committee of education specialists and business partners will observe the four finalists interacting with their students during class, followed by interviews with the TOYs. The committee and finalists will discuss topics such as their teaching philosophies and student-progress techniques.
III Speech Presentation:
On August 15, the four TOY finalists will each give a three- to five-minute speech to another panel of a dozen educators, business, and public-sector representatives who will judge the finalists on their speech and presentation skills.
On the evening of September 22, 2016, all 21 TOYs, accompanied by their families, friends, and co-workers (an audience of close to 500) will be honored at the annual Contra Costa County Teacher of the Year Dinner Celebration, held at the Hilton Concord. Contra Costa County Superintendent of Schools Karen Sakata, who serves as master of ceremonies, introduces the TOYs by sharing a special story that reflects her classroom visits of each teacher during the current spring and summer months. This will be followed by the four finalists giving their three- to five-minute speeches (same speeches given in August) to the filled banquet room. Finally, the night will come to a dramatic close with the announcement of the two 2016-2017 Contra Costa County Teachers of the Year.
Currently, there are approximately 8,400 teachers educating more than 174,800 students in Contra Costa County’s public schools. To recognize their efforts and bring much-deserved honor to the teaching profession, the participating school districts in the county recently named their Teachers of the Year (TOY) representatives. (See entire list of the county’s TOYs on our earlier news release.) This year’s 21 TOYs represent 16 Contra Costa County school districts, the Contra Costa Community College District, and the Contra Costa County Office of Education (CCCOE). Twenty of these representatives, those who teach grades pre-K thru adult education, are eligible to compete in the Contra Costa County TOY competition. The two winners of the county TOY program will represent Contra Costa County in the California State TOY Program this coming fall.Read More
Here we go again, folks. Another giveaway contract to BART unions. After a 15.8% salary increase in 2013, the BART board has now agreed to another 10.5% increase.
For that, we taxpayers got very little in exchange except for an agreement not to strike while the contract is in force. What should have been a no-strike ever clause wasn’t part of the deal.
Unfortunately since its inception BART has been plagued by financial mismanagement. Among other things it has set little or nothing aside for eventual capital replacement. Instead it gave away all the money in wages and benefits making it the highest paid transportation system in the country. It also has the highest fares.
The outrageous benefits were left untouched. Total compensation (wages and benefits) for the average worker is over $100,000. For a system crying poor mouth this makes no sense at all.
This new contract is to set the stage for a huge bond measure on the November ballot. Claiming the system has reached the end of its useful life, BART says it needs $10 billion for capital improvements. BART claims “its cars are the oldest big-city fleet in the United States”. The truth, it’s the fourth youngest among fifteen similar system nationally.
And let’s not forget that they spent $486 million on a link to the Oakland airport replacing a completely satisfactory and efficient bus system.
To summarize, BART financial management has been a disaster from its inception. The BART board has rolled over to the unions, giving away outrageous wages and benefits. It has both the highest fares and wages/benefits in the country. It has set little or nothing aside for capital replacement. It expects the taxpayers to make up for its financial follies.
Until the BART board and unions wake up and renegotiate the contract it should not be given any more money to mismanage.
The Board must develop a reasonable financial plan and strategy (of which it has none). It must develop some “backbone” when dealing/negotiating with its unions.
We are giving enough taxpayer subsidies already in sales and property taxes. We shouldn’t give them any more to mismanage.
It’s time to vote no on any bond measure.
Ken Hambrick, Chairman
Alliance of Contra Costa TaxpayersRead More
Join us at a free community screening of The Empowerment Project, a documentary film of extraordinary women from pilot to astronaut, mathematician, four-star admiral in US Navy and many more. They did not let fear or struggle and especially not gender stand in the way achieving their dream. The screening will be followed by a panel discussion featuring Tiffany Harris the Executive Director of Girls Inc. of West Contra Costa County, film director Sarah Moshman and Wei Ling Huber, President of Unite Here Local 2850. In partnership with the Community Organizing Institute of Organizing for Action and Indieflix, the OFA Greater East Bay Alliance is hosting this event. The organizer’s goal is to bring young women together to begin a conversation around women’s empowerment in our world today.
The screening will be held on April 30, 2 to 5 pm, in Berkeley Adult School, 1701 San Pablo Ave., Berkeley. Space is limited. Please RSVP to: my.barackobama.com/empowerment-project-berkeley.
For more information about Girls, Inc. West Contra Costa County, visit www.girlsinc-wcc.org.Read More
April is Earthquake Preparedness Month! Feel like you’re being shaken up a bit? Over the past 6 months, you have been rocking and rolling due to a swarm of over 600 small earthquakes centered in San Ramon and Danville that continue to occur in the region. What are the latest strategies to safeguard yourself and your family in the event of a major earthquake or other disaster? It’s smart to plan ahead.
To help you and your family better prepare for a larger earthquake that could occur as well as plan for other safety challenges, attend the CIG Community Safety Saturday on April 16th. This fun, free family-friendly community safety event, sponsored by Capital Insurance Group, will provide important information about earthquake and disaster preparedness, and offer many more resources, demonstrations and important information to help keep the community safe.
Date: Saturday, April 16, 2016
Time: 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Location: Onstads Insurance Agency, 3130 Crow Canyon Place #250, San Ramon, CA 94583
The event will feature many fun activities and demonstrations focusing on child, teen, family and community safety.
Free games, prizes, food and a wealth of safety information and resources at many different booths staffed by local and regional organizations, including KlaasKids’ Foundation, CHP Child Car Seat Inspections, Contra Costa County Office of the Sheriff demonstrations, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), East Bay Parks, California Office of Emergency Services, Boy Scouts, PG&E, FBI, and many more.
For more information, go to cigsafetysaturday.com.Read More
On Thursday, Contra Costa County, the Planning and Conservation League and Food and Water Watch, as well as two other Delta local agencies, Central Delta Water Agency and San Joaquin County announced they will file a lawsuit against the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (Met) over their plan to purchase several islands in the San Francisco Bay-Delta estuary.
On March 14, 2016, Metropolitan Water District had filed a Notice of Exemption under the California Environmental Quality Act for the purchase of the Delta islands, claiming the purchase was for Delta habitat restoration purposes.
However, Met’s General Manager, Jeff Kightlinger, admitted to the press at the time of the island purchase announcement that the islands could facilitate building the $15.7 billion Delta tunnels project championed by Governor Brown by “reducing eminent-domain needs and providing a storage place for construction dirt.”
At a rally in Stockton in support of the lawsuit, Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Executive Director, Restore the Delta spoke.
“Based on this improper CEQA filling, we are calling on the Metropolitan Water District Board of Directors to reverse the bad vote that they made at their General Manager’s urging to purchase the Delta islands,” she said. “Clearly, the purchase of the Delta islands is Met’s attempt to anchor the Delta tunnels in our region so that construction could begin, despite the fact that the plan is still not approved or financed.
“The $175 million purchase price for the Delta islands does not count the costs to Southern California ratepayers for the inevitable litigation that begins with today’s filing,” Barrigan-Parrilla continued. “If Met loses in court, they will not be able to ever sell these islands for the same price. That means Southern Californian water users will become owners of a very expensive duck habitat hundreds of miles to the north. Met will also be on the hook for maintenance of hundreds of miles of Delta levees, an ongoing cost that will be paid year after year by Southern California ratepayers.”
“Our 35,000 members from throughout California agree there are better ways for Southern California water agencies to plan for their water future. More than 7500 area residents have already signed letters that will be sent to Metropolitan Water District’s Board of Directors urging them to drop the Delta islands purchase and to instead invest the $175 million in solutions that build sustainability in Southern California like storm water capture and water recycling,” she added. “Met has already spent nearly $100 million on Delta tunnels planning, but the process at the State Water Board has recently ground to a halt, and there is no financial plan between Met and agricultural water districts, like the SEC fined Westlands, as to who will pay what proportion of the $15.5 billion construction costs.”
For more information on Restore the Delta and their efforts to stop the Delta Tunnels, visit www.restorethedelta.org.
State Senator Steve Glazer released the following statement, this week, about the agreement the BART has entered with its labor unions:
“About 60 days ago, 40 state and local elected leaders joined me in sending a letter to the BART Board and their unions calling on them to take steps to restore the public’s trust in the financial management of the BART system.
Specifically, we asked that BART negotiate an extension to its labor contract that would ensure that the trains would keep running without a work stoppage for the next five years and to do so in a financially responsible way.
Given what we know today, this proposed agreement takes a positive step forward in delivering on those requirements. If approved by the unions and the BART Board, we can be confident that there will be continuous train operations for the next five years without debilitating strikes.
The BART unions and management should be commended for doing this.
Strikes are too debilitating for BART riders and commuters. That is why transit strikes are banned in New York, Chicago, Washington DC, Boston and San Francisco.
There is still much more that BART should do to raise the level of confidence in the financial and operational management of the system. And I encourage them to continue the momentum with these confidence-building steps.
- Do not apply these cost of living raises to highly-paid managers. Their pay should be based on merit, not a “Me Too” clause.
- Commit to undertaking a salary study before the expiration of the next contract so that that we can closely examine each position’s compensation with the marketplace.
- Set up a capital depreciation fund so that savings for repair and replacement is funded every year rather than in a balloon payment through new bond proposals.
- Present clear projections of retirement costs and how they will be funded.
- Support legislation banning future BART strikes.
- Explore ways to train replacement managers to operate the system in the case of future work stoppages.
The financial elements of this proposed deal are not what I would have negotiated. BART workers are highly paid and system financial needs are great. However, I respect the collective bargaining process, and even if I disagree with some of the financial terms, I appreciate that compromise is required to bring all parties together.
This proposed contract represents the start of a turnaround for BART. We were going down the tracks, these past few years, in a very negative direction. The actions today have stopped that negative train and we are now heading in a positive direction. Let’s keep that momentum going with the confidence building steps that I have outlined.”
Glazer represents most of Contra Costa County in the California State Senate.Read More
The Lafayette Police Department is investigating a suspicious death that occurred in Lafayette.
On Wednesday at about 7:32 PM, officers were dispatched to the 800 block of Rosedale Avenue for a welfare check from someone who a relative had not been able to contact in days. Officers accessed the residence and found a deceased 66-year-old woman. The victim is not being identified at this time.
The investigation into this death is ongoing.
Anyone with any information on this case is asked to contact the Lafayette Police Department at (925) 283-3680. For any tips, please email: 94549Tip@so.cccounty.us or call 866-846-3592 to leave an anonymous voice message.