Son of Oakland Council President and Vice Mayor. Partner, a former California Department of Veterans Affairs Assistant Deputy Secretary, pleaded guilty in 2017, to be sentenced in November.
By U.S. Attorney’s Office, Northern District of California, Department of Justice
SAN FRANCISCO – Taj Armon Reid was sentenced to 12 months in prison for conspiracy and receiving bribes, announced United States Attorney David L. Anderson; Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge John F. Bennett; and Department of Energy Office of the Inspector General, Inspector General Teri L. Donaldson. The sentence was handed down today by the Honorable Charles R. Breyer, U.S. District Court Judge.
After a four-day jury trial, a federal jury found Reid, 48, of Oakland, guilty of the crimes on May 24, 2018. (See related East Bay Express article). Reid, the son of Oakland Vice Mayor and Council President Larry Reid, was a construction consultant and business partner with Eric Worthen, 46, of Pleasant Hill, who, at the time, was also an Assistant Deputy Secretary for the California Department of Veterans Affairs (CalVet). The evidence at trial demonstrated Reid received bribes on two occasions in connection with business being offered by CalVet. The jury also concluded Reid conspired with Worthen to receive the bribes. (See related KPIX5 report)
The evidence at trial showed that Reid accepted cash from a source on April 18, and again on May 8. In April, Reid offered a developer an inside advantage on two CalVet construction projects in exchange for $10,000 cash. Specifically, Reid offered to use Worthen’s position at CalVet to circumvent the normal bidding process for a residential home project in Ventura, Calif. The May transaction involved a kitchen remodel project at the veterans’ home in West Los Angeles. On this occasion, Reid and Worthen accepted $2,000 cash in exchange for providing to the developer inside information that the co-conspirator took from the CalVet office. Unbeknownst to Reid and Worthen, the “developer” to whom they were providing an inside track on the CalVet contracts was a source working under the direction of the FBI and posing as a developer willing to pay bribes in order to obtain contracts with public agencies. At the conclusion of the trial, the jury found Reid guilty of conspiracy, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371, and two counts of receiving a bribe or reward, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 666(a)(1)(B).
In addition to the prison term, Judge Breyer ordered Reid to serve three years of supervised release.
Worthen pleaded guilty in August of 2017 to his part in the conspiracy and for taking bribes. Judge Breyer scheduled his sentencing for November 6, 2019.
The case is being prosecuted by the Special Prosecutions and National Security Unit of the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the FBI, with assistance from the Department of Energy, Office of Inspector General.
Allen Payton contributed to this report.Read More
By Richmond Police
An auto burglary took place on June 26th around 10:40PM. Officers responded to Railroad Ave and E. Richmond Street and discovered broken glass. The victim’s car window was shattered, and the following equipment was stolen:
+ (2) Drones: DJI Mavic 2 Zoom + Mavic 2 Pro
+Lenses: 24-70, 70-200, 60, 85, 10.5, SB-800 Speedlight
+Apple Macbook Pro
+Apple Macbook Air
+Black Pelican case
Officers are currently looking for a potential suspect(s). If you have any information, please contact Dt. Martin at (510) 672-0611.
As a friendly reminder, be sure to remove all visible valuables from your vehicle.Read More
Wednesday afternoon, June 26, 2019 around 4:30pm, we responded to a collision on Mount Diablo Scenic Blvd near Diablo Ranch Drive. Upon arrival, we located a bicyclist down on the roadway and a Chevy SUV. Emergency medical aid was given to the bicyclist, and the adult male rider was driven by ambulance to the Athenian School where he was life flighted to a local hospital. Unfortunately, he succumbed to his injuries later that night.
The driver of the Chevy remained on scene and is cooperating with our investigation. The location where this collision occurred is a narrow winding roadway and it appears the bicyclist and vehicle hit head on. The rider was wearing a helmet.
If you have any information about this collision, please call the Contra Costa CHP Office at 925-646-4980.Read More
Lafayette, CA – Contra Costa County Public Works will perform roadwork on Taylor Boulevard approximately 0.6 miles north of its intersection with Rancho View Drive starting July 1 through July 11, weather permitting. The Public Works Department’s contractor will repair and replace a disconnected concrete storm drainpipe and repair damage to the road pavement.
Traffic may be affected by temporary lane closures between the hours of 9:00 am – 3:00 pm, Mondays through Thursdays. A changeable message sign and other construction signs will be placed in advance of the construction activities.Read More
Earlier this month, the Board of State and Community Corrections awarded the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office $1 million to establish a county-wide juvenile diversion pre-filing program. This diversion program will be the first county-wide program for Contra Costa County and comes on the announcement earlier this spring that our Office was starting a pilot program in Richmond for the fall of 2019. The BSCC grant will enable the pilot program in Richmond to be expanded and eventually taken county-wide.
The District Attorney’s Office joins the Contra Costa County Department of Probation, the RYSE Youth center, and Impact Justice to initiate a restorative justice program that will redirect youth from the juvenile and criminal justice system over a period of four years. The program will work with young people who have committed crimes and bring them together with those they have impacted in the community in order to atone for damages made and rebuild relationships.
“I am proud to have this program for the first-time ever in our county’s history. Our Office has a crucial role to play in reducing the pipeline into the juvenile justice system while at the same time reducing disparities in the entire criminal justice system. We have to invest in our youth to ensure they have other opportunities in their lives,” said District Attorney Diana Becton.
With the help of RYSE, the program hopes to lower recidivism rates, increase victim satisfaction, improve the youths’ relationships with their families, and lower incarceration and probation costs. Youth will learn about accountability and healing, as well as, how to establish trusting relationships with adults and authority figures. During the restorative justice process, RYSE will provide the victim and the youth offender with wrap-around services along with a facilitator for each person involved in the case.
By providing troubled youths with more resources and opportunities, Contra Costa hopes to divert up to 230 youths away from the juvenile justice system. A similar program in the Bay Area proved to be successful. Alameda County’s restorative justice program was remarkably successful as recidivism rates decreased; youths who participated in the program were 44 percent less likely to recidivate compared to similarly situated probation youth. The program carries a one-time cost of $4,500 per case while probation costs $23,000 per year and incarceration costs nearly $500,000 annually.Read More
El Sobrante, CA – Contra Costa County Public Works Department plans to repair a landslide along the western embankment of San Pablo Dam Road approximately 0.5 miles south of the Tri Lane intersection. The work will begin on July 1 with anticipated completion by October 3, weather permitting.
Traffic may be affected between the hours of 9:00 am – 3:00 pm, Mondays through Thursdays. Changeable message signs and other construction signs will be placed in advance of the construction activities.Read More
By Concord Police Department
Not on our Watch! Patrol officers from the Graves 1 team of the Concord PD responded to a silent alarm/probable burglary in-progress in the 1300 block of Galaxy Way on Wed., June 26 at 4:07 AM. Officers arrived in less than one minute and saw two vehicles fleeing. Officers tried to stop both vehicles and dual pursuits were initiated when both vehicles fled from pursuing officers onto Commerce Ave, across Concord Ave, then proceeding the wrong way up the southbound HYW 242 on-ramp. Officers stopped their pursuit(s) for safety reasons. A few moments later officers located one of the vehicles, a large RV, driving south on s/b HWY 242.
Officers pursued the RV for approximately 8-10 miles until the RV once again drove the wrong way up the southbound HWY 242 off-ramp at Solano Way, where CPD Officers terminated their pursuit. With help from citizen callers, the RV was located again, this time travelling west on the shoulder of eastbound HWY 4.
The driver, 34-year-old Jessica Tomsky (born 3/26/1985), was arrested for several counts of fleeing police officers, commercial burglary and possession of stolen property. There was stolen property from the commercial burglary she just fled from and stolen property from other commercial burglaries from Concord and other jurisdictions.
The Graves 1 team would like to thank the caller(s) who took the time to call 9-1-1 and update us on the location of the RV. Without help from our citizen’s our job would be much more difficult.Read More
Courageous & Emerging Leadership Academy (CELA) is hosting its first ever “CELA Honors Everyday Heroes” buffet dinner and auction fundraiser at La Piñata Restaurant in Pittsburg on Thursday, July 18, 2019, at 5:30 pm. This event is an awards ceremony held in appreciation of leaders, mentors, and advocates making a difference in the community through their work with at-risk and vulnerable youth.
There will be raffles and silent auction prizes, including an all-inclusive 7-9 nights resort and spa vacation for two to Antigua! Event tickets are $30 per person and can be purchased on Eventbrite at https://cela.eventbrite.com. All proceeds benefit CELA, a local non-profit organization dedicated to the education and mentoring of Bay Area youth ages 8-20. CELA has been serving the region since 2017 and currently partners with the Richmond Police Activities League (RPAL) to provide services that present local youth with opportunities to succeed.
Your donations and ticket purchases will help foster CELA’s mission of building minds and saving lives through violence prevention, tutoring, and community development. In addition, you will help CELA expand their mentoring programs, which include:
• Boxing with Insight (BWI) – a pilot project that has been established to implement the combination of mentoring, counseling, education, and therapeutic case management support through boxing and martial arts training.
• Financial Literacy Program “Biz Kids”- a program provided by Travis Credit Union for high school students to engage in building tools for their future.
If you would like to make a donation to CELA, please contact Ms. Jacqueline King-Walton, Executive Director at (707) 301-1162 or Mrs. Phyllis Ritter, Board President at (925) 628-1641. More information about CELA’s unique programming can be found on their website at www.celacademy.org.Read More
Also founder of the Wheelchair Foundation and Blackhawk Museum
By Allen Payton
Ken Behring, best known locally as the billionaire developer of Blackhawk and founder of the Blackhawk Museum in Contra Costa County, the former owner of the Seattle Seahawks, and the founder of the Wheelchair Foundation, died at the age of 91 on Tuesday night.
In a message posted on Facebook on Wednesday evening, June 26, 2019, his son, David Behring, wrote, “My father passed away peacefully last night at the age of 91. He was both a Lion and a Dragon and could not have lived a fuller life. He loved business, sports, travel, automobiles, family, adventure, life and helping others. His family and friends will deeply miss him and pledge to carry on his legacy. Our family is so appreciative of the hundreds of phone, text and email messages that have poured in today. I will write more reflections of him this weekend.”
Kenneth Eugene Behring was born in Freeport, Illinois on June 13, 1928. He grew up poor during the Depression era in Wisconsin and began working odd jobs at age seven. Yet, he ended up making the Forbes 400 list of richest Americans several times, and owning a jet plane, plus the NFL team.
A high-school football player, he received a partial football scholarship to the University of Wisconsin–Madison but, dropped out of college due to an injury that ended his football career, and making him ineligible for his scholarship.
Behring then worked as a salesman at a Chevrolet and Chrysler dealership and at 21, he started a used car business called Behring Motors in Monroe, Wisconsin. The young businessman was earning $50,000 a year and by age 27 had $1 million in assets.
His career as a real estate developer spanned four decades. Behring planned and developed communities in Florida, California, and Seattle. His company conceived and developed the entire city of Tamarac, Florida in the 1950’s which now has a population of over 60,000.
In 1972 he moved to California, where he is best known for planning and developing the renowned Blackhawk community near Danville, as well as the Canyon Lakes Development in San Ramon. In East County, his company Blackhawk Development built the Apple Hill Estates and Summerset communities in Brentwood.
In Seattle his company created Blakely Ridge, a planned community of 2,200-homes and Grande Ridge, a 2,500-acre commercial and residential development.
Behring was the author of two books, his autobiography in 2004, “The Road to Purpose” and in 2013, “The Road to Leadership”, in which he shares his own life experiences and the need for purpose in an individual’s life.
“I am a simple man who has lived a simple life and, in the process, learned a simple lesson,” he wrote in The Road to Leadership. “I was born poor. But I will die rich – with more money, in fact, than I ever imagined existed when I was a boy. By the world’s standards, I climbed aboard the American dream and rode it to the top, becoming a leader in business.”
“Yet as I look back on all my success, I realize that doing well financially is easy compared with achieving true success: finding a purpose in life beyond just making money. Purpose is something you achieve by giving your heart, time, love and money to providing a better life for mankind.”
And give back, he did.
After purchasing the Seattle Seahawks football team in 1988, Behring established the Seattle Seahawks Charitable Foundation in 1995, which benefited numerous children’s charities. The foundation was the most substantial donor to the Western Washington Muscular Dystrophy Association for many years.
On his birthday in 2000, Behring established the Wheelchair Foundation at a ceremony on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. To date, the organization has raised funds to pay for and distribute over one million wheelchairs to those with physical disabilities throughout the world.
Behring served on the boards of U.C. Berkeley, St. Mary’s College of California and Holy Names College. He also served as the president of the American Academy of Achievement. He has been honored as Man of the Year by Boys’ Town of Italy and the Mt. Diablo Foundation.
Behring actively contributed to the cultural community in California and the nation. He gained recognition through one of the largest and finest classic automobile collections in the world, housed in the Blackhawk Museum, in which some of the wings bear his name.
His contributions to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. resulted in improvements to two of the museums. According to MuseumNetwork.com, in 1997 Behring donated $20 million for the National Museum of Natural History to update the mammal wing, which bears his name and which opened in the fall of 2003. Then, in 2000 Behring donated another $80 million which was purportedly the largest cash donation ever given to a U.S. museum by a living person. The gift enabled what is now known as the National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center to restore and update its permanent and temporary exhibits.
Also, in 2000, Behring donated $7.5 million to U.C. Berkeley, to expand the Principal Leadership Institute. The newly established Kenneth E. Behring Center for Educational Improvement focused on training programs for public-school principals, providing scholarships for fifty aspiring principals every year.
He established the Behring Global Education Foundation, which encompasses and coordinates all of his philanthropic efforts, including the Wheelchair Foundation, Operation Global Vision and the Safe Drinking Water Project and museum donations.
Behring is survived by his wife, Pat, whom he married at age 21, five sons, and as of 2018, ten grandchildren and two great grandchildren.Read More
Investigators with the Contra Costa County Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force recently participated in Operation Broken Heart, a nationwide effort to investigate technology facilitated crimes against children, including those who receive and distribute child pornography. Throughout April and May, the team conducted investigations of subjects who distributed child pornography over the internet and focused on individuals traveling to Contra Costa County to meet minors to engage in sexual activity.
In addition to the proactive investigations the ICAC team participated in, a significant school outreach program was also undertaken to teach parents and student about the risks associated with smartphones and social media. During the last year, investigators and prosecutors delivered presentations at multiple schools and community organizations, reaching thousands of parents, students and educators.
Some notable arrests and investigations conducted during Operation Broken Heart include:
-On April 11, 2019, Investigators arrested Gerald Jue of Danville, California. During the investigation, investigators learned Jue was accessing the internet and searching for child pornography. Jue is a third and fourth grade teacher in the Fremont School District. When a search warrant was served at Jue’s residence, a computer was seized that contained evidence of Jue’s internet searches as well as web pages containing child pornography. Jue was indicted by a federal Grand Jury in Oakland, Ca on June 6, 2019 and arrested on June 7, 2019. He was subsequently released on bond and is awaiting trial. This case was investigated by the ICAC Task Force and the United States Secret Service.
-On May 2, 2019, investigators arrested Sonny Mitchell, a registered sex offender from Antioch, California. During the course of the two-month investigation, it was discovered that Mitchell was distributing child pornography via the Facebook Messenger platform. When a search warrant was executed at Mitchell’s residence, investigators seized a device that contained additional images of child pornography. Mitchell was indicted by a federal Grand Jury in Oakland, California on May 9, 2019 and remains in custody. This case was investigated by the ICAC Task Force and the United States Secret Service.
-On May 3, 2019, investigators arrested William Cashell of Walnut Creek, California. In April 2019, Yahoo sent tips to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children when child pornography was found in Cashell’s e-mail account. During a warrant at Cashell’s apartment, investigators located an iPhone which was later determined to contain images of child pornography. Cashell’s is charged with one count of possession of child pornography by the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office and a warrant has been issued for his arrest. This case was investigated by the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office and the ICAC Task Force.
-On May 16, 2019, investigators executed a search warrant in the 2400 block of L Street in Antioch related to a child pornography possession investigation. ICAC Investigators found evidence the suspect, Henry Cordon, a 34-year-old resident of Antioch, California and formally of Orange Park, Florida, kept images of child pornography stored in his various e-mail accounts. Additionally, during the search warrant Cordon confessed to sexually assaulting a child under the age of ten in 2009 while living in Orange Park, Florida. Cordon produced at least one image of the sexual assault of that child. Cordon was indicted by a federal Grand Jury in Oakland, California on May 30, 2019 for Receipt and Possession of Child Pornography. Cordon remains in custody and is currently under investigation in both California and Florida for other offenses related to crimes against children. This case was investigated by the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office, the ICAC Task Force and Homeland Security Investigations.
The Silicon Valley Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force is managed by the San Jose Police Department. In Contra Costa County, detectives and investigators from the Walnut Creek, Concord and Moraga Police Departments, the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office, Contra Costa County Probation Department and Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office participate in the task force along with Special Agents from the United States Department of Homeland Security and the United States Secret Service.
Parents are encouraged to discuss online safety with their children and can visit the website www.kidsmartz.org for further information. If you believe your school or community organization would benefit from a smartphone and social media awareness presentation, please contact Senior Inspector Darryl Holcombe at email@example.com.