Includes sexual assault of a child under the age of 10 and arranging to meet a minor for sex
On Friday, Nov. 3, 2017, investigators from the Martinez Police Department, Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office, and District Attorney’s Office arrested 33-year-old Martinez resident Michael Bartel for sexual assault of a child and arranging to meet a minor for sex. Bartel was booked Friday evening at the Martinez Detention Facility. His bail was set at $16 million. Bartel is a science teacher at Walnut Creek Intermediate in Walnut Creek. There is currently no indication Bartel victimized a student at the school.
Bartel’s arrest was a result of an investigation initiated by the Martinez Police Department. Martinez police detectives learned Bartel was talking online with others and had made statements about molesting children. Martinez police detectives, along with investigators from the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force launched an investigation to determine if the statements were true. After a weeklong investigation, Bartel was arrested during a traffic stop at approximately 1:30 p.m. on Friday afternoon at the intersection of Danville Blvd. and Camille Lane in Alamo.
Friday afternoon, investigators from the Walnut Creek Police Department executed a search warrant at Bartel’s classroom at Walnut Creek Intermediate and notified the school administration of the arrest. Later that afternoon, investigators from the Martinez Police Department with substantial assistance from the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office, Contra Costa County Crime Lab and District Attorney’s Office searched Bartle’s home in Martinez.
On Monday, November 6, 2017, the District Attorney’s Office filed a 16-count criminal complaint against Bartel. The charges include multiple sex offenses against a child under the age of 10 including oral copulation, arranging to meet a minor for sex and possession and distribution of child pornography.
Bartel will make his first appearance in court on Tuesday November 7, 2017 at 8:45 a.m. in front of the Honorable John Laettner for arraignment. Bartel remains in custody of the Contra Costa County Sheriff.
Anyone with investigative information should contact Senior Inspector Darryl Holcombe, Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office at (925) 957-2263.Read More
The Contra Costa County Office of the Public Defender is pleased to announce the release of a Request for Proposals (RFP) to solicit proposals from nonprofit organizations to implement community-based services for “Stand Together CoCo,” a new public/private initiative managed by the Public Defender’s Office.
Unanimously approved by the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors in September 2017, Stand Together CoCo will provide no-cost rapid-response support, civil deportation defense legal services and clinics, immigrant rights education and training, and direct-service support for individuals and families affected by the federal deportation system.
Stewarded by a multi-sector Steering Committee of local stakeholders, Stand Together CoCo is designed as a 2.5-year pilot project. For the Project’s initial six-month term (January 2-June 30, 2018), the total funding available is $491,843. Depending on performance during the initial phase, funding is expected to increase to $979,285 in fiscal year 2018/2019. A third year of funding at similar levels is possible for fiscal year 2019/2020.
The mission of Stand Together CoCo is to ensure that all people in Contra Costa County, regardless of citizenship or immigration status, are afforded the due-process rights established by the United States Constitution.
Private, not-for-profit organizations with demonstrated experience in developing and implementing immigrant-focused legal, educational, or support services are eligible to apply. Joint proposals are strongly encouraged.
A Bidders’ Conference will be held on Friday, November 3, 2017, from 1:30-3:30 PM, in the Zoning Administrator’s Room, 30 Muir Road, Martinez, CA, 94553. This conference is recommended but not mandatory.
All potential applicants must submit a non-binding Notice of Intent to Apply no later than 12 Noon on Wednesday, November 8, 2017.
Proposals are due by 5:00 p.m. on Friday, November 28, 2017.
Additional information and all necessary documents and forms can be found on the Stand Together CoCo website.Read More
You can thank Assemblyman Jim Frazier for that pain at the pump you’re feeling now that gas is an extra 12 cents per gallon.
Frazier and his fellow Democrats in Sacramento raised taxes $52 billion annually, including a 12 cents/gallon gas tax hike, 20 cents/gallon diesel gas tax hike and a $25-$175 vehicle fee increase. The average household will be paying an extra $600 a year.
Frazier not only voted for the tax-hike legislation, but sponsored his own version of the tax-hike bill, Assembly Bill 1. So it’s no surprise that Frazier once again received an “F” on his legislative report card from the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association. He voted in favor of taxpayer interests only 16 percent of the time on 22 tax bills in 2017.
This makes the fifth year in a row that Frazier, whose campaign slogan is “People before politics,” has received an “F” from HJTA for putting politics before people when it comes to their taxes.
Unfortunately, Frazier is not alone – a record 79 legislators flunked the tax scorecard. “By approving major new burdens on middle class taxpayers, the current crop of Sacramento lawmakers is exhibiting an outright hostility to the taxpayers who pay the state’s bills,” said HJTA President Jon Coupal.
How bad is the hostility? State lawmakers this year proposed $373.4 billion in higher annual taxes and fees, according to the California Tax Foundation. That’s nearly $200 billion more than the total taxes and fees annually collected by state government.
When will it end? Only when taxpayers decide they’ve had enough and stop sending taxaholics like Frazier to represent them in Sacramento.
Settlement will also include costs and restitution for misleading customers by falsely promising guaranteed annual renewal rates to obtain up-front fees
MARTINEZ, California — Contra Costa District Attorney Diana Becton, in conjunction with Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas, announced that on November 1, 2017, the District Attorney’s Consumer Protection Divisions reached a consumer protection settlement of $1.2 million in civil penalties against 24 Hour Fitness, Inc. The company must also pay $100,000 in costs to the County of Orange and Contra Costa, as well as pay restitution to the members who were misled by the promises of a low lifetime annual renewal rate in exchange for large up-front membership fees.
24 Hour Fitness is headquartered in San Ramon, Contra Costa County, California and has 400+ membership fitness gyms in 18 states, of which 140 are located in California. The allegations against 24 Hour Fitness state that between 2006 and 2009, 24 Hour sold pre-paid memberships in a false and misleading manner when 24 Hour sales representatives took large up-front fees for an initial 2 or 3-year membership period, with the promise that members would be guaranteed a low life-time annual renewal rate for life, as long as the member remained in good standing by paying their annual renewal fee on time. The up-front fees ranged from $600 to over $1400 with a promise of a fixed annual renewal rate between $29-$199 a year.
In 2006, 24 Hour made changes to the language of their pre-paid membership contracts that allowed for annual rate increases, but the District Attorneys alleged that 24 Hour sales representatives continued to sell these post-April 2006 memberships with verbal promises that their annual renewal rates would be guaranteed fixed for life. Consumers also believed they were misled by the verbal representations and in 2015, when 24 Hour began increasing annual renewal rates, they complained to the Company and the Better Business Bureau. They also started an on-line petition protesting the company’s broken promises.
The complaint alleges that 24 Hour refused to honor the verbal guarantees, so members who refused to pay the increased annual rate had their memberships terminated after having paid the large up-front fees or forced members to pay the increased rates.
The Settlement requires that 24 Hour Fitness allow pre-paid members to renew their memberships at the promised low annual lifetime renewal rate, if the member submits a claim form and declaration that they were told by a 24 Hour sales representative that their annual rate was guaranteed to remain the same for life. All past and present 24 Hour Fitness members, who purchased post 2006 pre-paid membership contracts, or were updated to these contracts, and either paid the increase or were terminated for failure to pay the increase, will be sent a notice with instructions on how, where and when to submit their forms and declarations.
The District Attorney’s Offices want to make it clear that, if you receive a notice, it means you have one of the new contracts that allows for the increase, even if your rate has not yet been increased. It is important, that if you were promised a lifetime guaranteed annual renewal rate you must fill out the claim form and declaration to preserve or reinstate your guaranteed annual renewal rate. The restitution provisions of this settlement extend to qualifying pre-paid members nationwide.
24 Hour Fitness admitted no wrong-doing in the Settlement Agreement.
Deputy District Attorney Michelle Cipolletti from the Orange County District Attorney’s Consumer Protection Unit and Deputy District Attorney Dodie Katague from the Contra Costa Consumer Protection Unit prosecuted this case.
For further information, please contact DDA Dodie Katague at 925-957-8604.Read More
By June Brown
Antioch’s elderly population is merely 9% and of this figure, 20% are living alone according to SeniorCare.com. Living alone has many implications including loneliness, isolation and even memory problems. While aging is a normal process, there are things that can be done about memory failure. The good news is there are ways to boost memory and for seniors who are living solo, it helps if memory is intact improving quality of life and their safety.
Who says no one can change bad habits even if already old? For the elderly, now is a great time to think about those lifestyle changes. There are several ways to enhance and improve memory and one of them is to follow healthy diets and exercise.
Eating well-balanced meals, including lots of greens and fruits as well as important omega-3 fatty acids can keep brains alive and healthy. A diet rich in proteins, lean in carbohydrates and low in bad fats helps brain cells which in turn promotes good memory.
Antioch has an abundance of fresh food markets such as Kaiser Permanente Antioch Farmers’Market, Brentwood and Pittsburg Markets. Eventbrite is a good source of food and drink events in Antioch where seniors can go such as the upcoming Fall Harvest Festival 2017 and the Acorn Workshop.
Studies also validate that exercise and getting into physical movement can reduce sedentary living which can lead to diseases such as heart attacks, high blood pressure or certain types of cancers. If every senior works out at least 150 minutes a week, it would boost memory and thinking skills (Harvard Health Blog, 2014).
Antioch offers many gyms where the elderly can exercise. There are parks for quiet walks and relaxation. Contra Costa Canal Trail and Contra Loma Regional Park & Swimming Lagoon are great places to go for a walk, hike or a swim. There are golf, bowling and skating facilities for sports lovers and active seniors.
Brain Games and Exercises
The brain like any other part of the body needs to work out. Stimulation is part of keeping brain cells healthy and strong. There are many ways older adults can boost brain power and improve memory with simple daily tasks such as reading and doing crossword puzzles. Playing chess, trying computer games, and learning new things (language, sewing or musical instruments) also help. By being mentally active, the brain remains sharp slowing down its degradation over time or as one ages.
Another factor that contributes to memory retention is socialization. Isolation is not a positive thing as it brings depression, anxiety and stress, factors that contribute to memory loss. Meeting new people whether by going to functions, eating together or volunteering at charities prevents negative psychological effects improving mood, memory and cognitive function. There is a correlation between socialization and dementia incidence. The longer the brain stays inactive, the more likely it will stagnate. Social engagement is important to keep it functioning well. It also forces people to respond and the brain to react.
The Antioch Community Center and Southeast Community Center organize activities for older adults to do things together. They also hold social events on a regular basis. Older adults can also try some of the restaurants that won in the 2017Antioch People’s Awards after a night of bingo. Consider China City for Chinese or go to Celia’s for Mexican. The object is get out more often, meet people and do things together whether it is a haircut at Reign Salon or a massage at Relaxing Station.
Lifestyle changes, brain exercises and socialization are activities that older adults can easily do to improve memory. Enhanced memory also improves the quality of life, something every senior cherishes as the journey continues.Read More
By Jimmy Lee, Public Information Officer, Contra Costa County Sheriff
On Sunday, Oct. 29, 2017 at about 12:53 PM, Deputy Sheriffs were dispatched to the area of 2600 Dutch Slough Road in Bethel Island for a report of a person who had been shot.
The victim was located and found to have suffered a gunshot wound. The victim was taken to a local hospital by ambulance and is expected to survive.
The suspect fled the scene before Deputies arrived. Despite an extensive search, he could not be located.
Monday evening, the suspect turned himself in to police. The suspect is identified as 27-year-old Nicholas Gursoy of Oakley. After being interviewed by Detectives, Gursoy was booked into the Martinez Detention Facility for attempted murder. He is being held in lieu of $1 million bail.
Anyone with any information on this case is asked to contact the Contra Costa County Office of the Sheriff Investigation Division at (925) 313-2600. For any tips, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 866-846-3592 to leave an anonymous voice message.Read More
Turned himself in to Antioch Police
By Jimmy Lee, Public Information Officer, Contra Costa County Office of the Sheriff
Detectives from the Contra Costa County Office of the Sheriff have identified 19-year-old Brayan Zavala of Antioch as the suspect in the early Sunday morning homicide of 48-year-old Bradley MacHugh of Discovery Bay. (See related articles here, and here)
An arrest warrant was issued for Zavala, who is described as a Hispanic male, 5’,8”, 130 pounds, with black hair and brown eyes. He was believed to be driving a 2005 silver C240 Mercedes Benz sedan with California license plate — 7TMJ018.
Detectives say MacHugh was involved in a dispute with occupants in two vehicles over reckless driving early Sunday morning. During the dispute, Detectives believe suspect Zavala produced a gun and shot MacHugh.
Zavala was considered armed and dangerous and the Sheriff warned the public that he should not be approached.
Wednesday afternoon at about 5:00 PM, suspect Brayan Zavala volunteered to turn himself in to police. Deputy Sheriffs, assisted by the Antioch Police Department, arrested Zavala.
Zavala was interviewed by Sheriff’s Detectives and at about 7:30 PM, Zavala was booked into the Martinez Detention Facility on a murder charge. He is being held in lieu of $1 million bail.
The investigation into this case is ongoing. Anyone with any information on the case is asked to contact the Investigation Division at (925) 404-4200 or call the anonymous tip lines at (925) 313-1166 or (866) 846-3592. Tips can also be emailed to: email@example.com.Read More
Coauthored by Assemblyman Tim Grayson (D-Concord)
Assemblywoman Catharine Baker (R-San Ramon) announced Governor Brown has signed Assembly Bill 1674. This measure will help ensure out-of-state students admitted to the University of California (UC) must meet or exceed academic qualifications of California resident students. Assemblywoman Baker jointly coauthored this important legislation with Assemblymen Tim Grayson and Kevin McCarty.
Last year, the non-partisan, independent State Auditor found that the UC admission practices have heavily disadvantaged California resident students in order to admit more nonresident students, who pay higher tuition. The audit revealed that UC admitted nearly 16,000 nonresidents with lower academic qualifications than California resident students, and actually adjusted admission standards to make it easier for nonresidents to gain admission.
“The University of California needs to put California students first, and not tip the admissions scales unfairly to nonresidents,” said Baker. “Hard-working and highly-qualified California students should not be turned away from admission simply because they pay lower tuition than a nonresident student.”
AB 1674 was supported by California Competes and the California Federation of Teachers. This bill received unanimous, bipartisan support in both the Senate and Assembly prior to receiving the Governor’s signature.
Baker represents the 16th Assembly District, which includes the communities of Alamo, Danville, Dublin, Lafayette, Livermore, Moraga, Orinda, Pleasanton, San Ramon, and Walnut Creek.Read More
School children across Contra Costa County will participate in the 16th annual countywide shelter-in-place drill to practice safety procedures in the event of a nearby hazardous material release or other incident requiring them to shelter-in-place. Directed by CAER, this year’s shelter-in-place drill will be held at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, November 1st, and all public and private schools, and childcare centers throughout Contra Costa County are encouraged to participate.
“Each year we are encouraged with the increased number of participating schools CAER works with,” said CAER’s Executive Director, Tony Semenza. “Teachers and students should all know shelter-in-place procedures just as they are trained about what to do in case of a fire or earthquake.”
This annual safety event gives children and their caregivers an important opportunity to practice responding to the Community Warning System (CWS) alerts, which includes a series of sirens along the waterfront areas from Richmond to Antioch. The CWS sounds a siren when there has been a dangerous chemical release or other disaster that requires a shelter-in-place. These alerts are also sent via radio, TV, cell and land line calls and social media postings.
Hazardous material releases can result from many sources in Contra Costa County, including accidents at chemical treatment plants, wastewater treatment facilities, facilities that store and/or manufacture hazardous materials, refineries, but also from collisions involving trucks or trains that transport chemicals. The possibility of accidents, make it important for the county’s youngest members to recognize and respond correctly to shelter-in-place alerts.
CAER is a coalition of local agencies, businesses, industries, community groups and emergency response organizations. CAER works to improve emergency response planning and to actively enhance public health and safety.Read More