On Monday, morning April 25 at about 4:45, Office of the Contra Costa County Sheriff dispatch received a report that an armed robbery was taking place at the California Grand Casino at the 5900 block of Pacheco Boulevard in Pacheco.
Deputies responded along with officers from nearby law enforcement agencies. A perimeter was set up and employees and customers were evacuated.
Suspect description: Male, 6′, approximately 200 pounds, wearing a full face Halloween mask, black hoodie jacket, dark pants, orange gloves, armed with a semi-automatic rifle.
Anyone with any information on this robbery is asked to contact the Office of the Sheriff Investigation Division at (925) 313-2662. (See more photos on the County Sheriff’s Facebook page).
On Saturday, April 30, 2016, from 10 AM to 2 PM, the Contra Costa County Office of the Sheriff and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) will give the public its 11th opportunity in six years to prevent pill abuse and theft by ridding their homes of potentially dangerous expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs. Bring your pills for disposal at the following sites. The DEA cannot accept liquids or needles or sharps, only pills or patches. The service is free and anonymous, no questions asked.
DROP OFF LOCATIONS:
-Office of the Sheriff Muir Station, 1980 Muir Road, Martinez (Field Operations Building)
-Office of the Sheriff Bay Station, 5555 Giant Highway, Richmond (West County Detention Facility)
-Danville Police Department, 510 La Gonda Way, Danville
-Lafayette Police Department, 3675 Mt. Diablo Way, Suite 130, Lafayette
-Oakley Police Department, 3231 Main Street, Oakley
-Orinda Police Department, 22 Orinda Way, Orinda
Last September, Americans turned in over 702,000 pounds of prescription drugs at over 5,000 sites operated by the DEA and more than 3,800 of its state and local law enforcement partners. When those results are combined with what was collected in its ten previous Take Back events, DEA and its partners have taken in over 5.5 million pounds—more than 2,750 tons—of pills.
This initiative addresses a vital public safety and public health issue. Medicines that languish in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse, and abuse. Rates of prescription drug abuse in the U.S. are alarmingly high, as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs. Studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet. In addition, Americans are now advised that their usual methods for disposing of unused medicines—flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash—both pose potential safety and health hazards.
For more information about the disposal of prescription drugs or about the April 30, 2016 Take Back Day event, go to the DEA Office of Diversion Control website at: www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov.
Antioch’s Mayor Wade Harper and Councilwoman Monica Wilson are failures. Antioch is no safer or better off since their elections. Their impacts haven’t been positive in many ways. Their visions for Antioch have allowed Antioch to be a crime plagued community under their leadership. Don’t vote for them for County Supervisor.
Some of Harper’s primary election campaign platforms was to improve Antioch’s public safety. He boasted “The City of Antioch will be a safer city on my watch” and “Stopping crime now starts with Police Lieutenant Wade Harper.” It additionally crowed “How about we elect a City Councilmember who has experience fighting crime – well beyond talking about it.”
Harper also promised “more police” and “less crime” in his overzealous support for a YES vote on tax Measure “C”. What a farce that has also turned out to be, he was one of the main proponents for its passage. Same Police, similar crime results since. Monica Wilson was right there going along and not pointing out the farce it’s been.
Antioch’s Police manpower has really not been increased, even with Harper and Wilson at the helm, with almost the same number of sworn Officers as before. But, they did give big salary and benefits increases to some employee groups instead. Antioch’s crime rate hasn’t really been reduced, it’s been a misleading dog and pony show when publicly discussed by them and others.
As an example, where are the 20 plus “more” Officers that were promised? And where is the “less crime” they promised? Not kept. Antioch’s high crime rate situation is still way too high! Antioch’s documented crime rate is higher than the California average crime rate and is higher than the National average crime rate. Antioch’s is about 46% more than California’s average and about 49% more than the National average.
Let’s face it, Antioch’s Wade Harper and Monica Wilson are failures and should not be voted for County Supervisor. We can do better without them. There are four other Candidates to chose from and should instead be considered for your votes.
Ralph A. Hernandez
former Antioch Council Member, and
Chair Citizens For DemocracyRead More
Assemblywoman Catharine Baker (R-San Ramon) honored ECOlunchbox as the Small Business of the Month for the month of April on Friday, April 22, just in time for Earth Day. ECOlunchbox was founded in 2009 by Sandra Ann Harris of Lafayette with the mission of helping people reduce their dependence on plastics by providing an ecofriendly alternative to the standard plastic lunchware.
“I am pleased to recognize ECOlunchbox as our April Small Business of the Month, and I thank ECOlunchbox founder, Sandra Ann Harris, for contributing to the vitality of our local economy,” said Baker. “Sandra is not only running a highly successful business in our community, she is also leading the way for a cleaner environment by reducing waste from our landfills and oceans one reusable container at a time, and doing so as a mom working from home.”
ECOlunchbox produces non-leaching stainless steel lunchboxes and cotton lunch bags, all of which are plastic- and waste-free. In addition to selling its products online at ecolunchboxes.com, ECOlunchbox uses its website as a resource to share information about the impact plastic has on our planet and advice for families about reducing exposure to toxins found in plastics.
“We’re a small, green, woman-owned social venture based in Lafayette,” said Harris. “What a thrill to get a call that we’re being recognized by Assemblywoman Baker as business of the month. Forward-thinking leaders, like Assemblywoman Baker, know that businesses like ECOlunchbox are good for the economy – as well as for people and planet.”
ECOlunchbox has sold more than 280,000 lunchboxes since it was founded seven years ago on Harris’ kitchen table, and is responsible for averting the use of tens of millions of pieces of plastic trash from use and disposal.
“It’s important we be good stewards of our environment,” Baker added. “Let’s treat every day like it’s Earth Day.”Read More
Each year, the Contra Costa County Office of Education (CCCOE), in partnership with the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA), participates in the California State Classified School Employee of the Year (CSEY) program, coordinated by the California Department of Education. Recently, the CCCOE and ACSA announced this year’s honored employees.
Contra Costa County Classified School Employee of the Year Honorees
Steve Waters, Campus Resource Assistant, Pittsburg Unified School District, Campus Resource Category
Norma Arreguin, Instructional Aide, Brentwood Union School District, Para-Educator and Instructional Assistant Category
Mark Mortenson, Maintenance Craftsman, Orinda Union School District Maintenance, Operations and Facilities Category
Vickey Corker, Secretary, Student Services, Byron Union School District, Office and Technical Category
Jeri Sutherland, Library Media Coordinator, San Ramon Valley Unified School District, Support Services and Security Category
Maxine Williford, Business Office Technician, John Swett Unified School District, Transportation Category
Contra Costa County Classified School Employee of the Year Nominees
Maintenance, Operations, and Facilities Category:
Donald Howard, Welder, West Contra Costa Unified School District
Jeanette Navarro, Custodian I, Pittsburg Unified School District
Greg Wiggs, Lead Custodian, Contra Costa County Office of Education
Office and Technical Category:
Ellena Ashley, Maintenance & Operations Technician, Pittsburg Unified School District
Martha Collins, Human Resources Assistant II, Contra Costa County Office of Education
Jenny Goodspeed, District Advisor, Contra Costa County Office of Education
Lina Gramatikova, District Payroll Audit Specialist, Contra Costa County Office of Education
Lisa Gruen, Human Resources Technician, West Contra Costa Unified School District
Brenda Kozak, School Administrative Secretary, Contra Costa County Office of Education
Sylvia McClaflin, Special Education Administrative Technician, West Contra Costa Unified School District
Janice Rodriguez, Senior Accounting Assistant, Contra Costa County Office of Education
Debra Shelby, Administrative Assistant II, Contra Costa County Office of Education
Michelle Snyder, College & Career Coordinator, Liberty Union School District
June Stephens, Electronic Communications Specialist, Contra Costa County Office of Education
Jennifer Wall, Administrative Assistant III, Contra Costa County Office of Education
Heidi Wise, Office Manager, Martinez Unified School District
Para-Educator and Instructional Assistance Category:
Stone Chandler, Special Education Assistant, West Contra Costa Unified School District
Raquel Enriquez, Instructional Aide, Pittsburg Unified School District
The CSEY program, sponsored by the CCCOE/ACSA, highlights the contributions of exemplary classified school employees that support and play a key role in promoting student achievement, safety, and health in California public schools, from preschool through 12th grade.
“We are proud to participate in the Classified School Employee of the Year Program,” said Karen Sakata, Contra Costa County Superintendent of Schools. “These amazing individuals are instrumental in promoting student learning and ensuring that our schools, districts and county offices operate smoothly and efficiently.”
All nominees will be recognized at a reception sponsored by the CCCOE, on April 28. The California state’s awardees will be honored at a luncheon in Sacramento, during Classified School Employee Week, May 15-19, 2016.Read More
Imagine the thrill of winning a blue ribbon at the Fair for a special talent. Think you own the best pig, bake the most delicious apple pie, made a beautiful quilt, or have an uncanny knack for making crafts? Want to see who’s the best in all of Contra Costa County? Then be sure to enter the Contra Costa County Fair’s competitive exhibits. There’s something for everyone. Download our Exhibitor Handbook and find the best division for your special talent.
All entries must be entered online or postmarked by April 30th. Walk in entries must be received by April 29th by 4 pm at the fair office.
Check our website for entries instructions and more information on entry requirements.
Don’t wait, enter early, and often……..
This year’s fair will be held Thursday, June 2 through Sunday, June 5 at the Contra Costa County Fairgrounds, 1201 West 10th Street in Antioch. For further information, please visit www.contracostafair.com.
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