Arrested at Walnut Creek church, investigations into other possible victims
The Contra Costa District Attorney has filed three felony counts of grand theft by fraud and one felony count of Elder Financial Abuse against Ward Steven Caldwell, also known as Bruce Harmon, also known as Bruce Goodrich, age 55. Caldwell is also charged with penalty enhancements for losses exceeding $150,000 and an aggravated white collar enhancement for committing financial crimes on two or more people with total losses over $100,000. Additional charges are pending after several more victims were discovered.
In September 2015, Caldwell befriended the first victim, a widowed hairdresser, by portraying himself as a successful investor and promising to double her money. Caldwell told her that he had a business partner named Junior in Las Vegas who invested in strip joints, casinos and TV commercials. Over a three-month period in 2016, the victim gave Caldwell a total of $139,500.
The second victim met Caldwell at a car wash in Walnut Creek. Caldwell struck up a conversation about the car she was driving and offered to help her sell her first car. Caldwell convinced her to invest $30,000 in a business deal where investors would buy a Bugatti Chiron and sell it for a large profit.
The third victim is a 90-year-old woman from Lafayette. She met Caldwell at the Grace Presbyterian Church in Walnut Creek. The victim thought Caldwell was an honest person because she read in the church newsletter that Caldwell had donated $150,000 to the church. In reality, Caldwell had given the pastor two checks totaling $150,000 and told him to hold the checks until Caldwell told him that he had received some settlement money that would make the checks good. The elderly victim gave Caldwell a total of $171,200.
DA Investigators and accountants found that Caldwell had used the investment money for personal expenses and none of it went to any investments. They also found two potential victims in Contra Costa, Alameda County and one victim in Butte County. Those cases are under investigation.
Defendant was arrested last Sunday at the Grace Presbyterian Church and is being held in custody on a $505,000 bail. The District Attorney’s office believes there may be other victims at the church and defendant may have befriended other elders living at assisted living facilities.
If you know of other victims, or assisted-living facilities that Caldwell may have visited, please contact DA Inspector Al Cofer at 925-957-2200.Read More
Challenging three-term incumbent Gail Murray
County pension board trustee Debora Allen announced, Wednesday morning, that she is running for District 1 BART Director, in the 2016 general election. The chief financial officer of East County Glass is challenging incumbent Gail Murray who is seeking her fourth term on the BART board. District 1 includes the Concord, Pleasant Hill/Contra Costa Centre, Walnut Creek and Lafayette BART stations, and the cities of Martinez, Lafayette, Walnut Creek, Concord, Danville, San Ramon and Clayton, as well as Alamo and Blackhawk.
“Over the last decade, the BART experience has deteriorated with increased crime, system delays, labor strikes, equipment malfunctions, fake security cameras, high fares, budget shortfalls and overall public dissatisfaction,” Allen said. “BART is so antiquated, their control system is from 1972 and they buy replacement parts on eBay.”
Allen’s campaign platform is focused on five primary objectives:
- DEMAND accountability from management for the financial stability, affordability, and cost effectiveness of BART.
- REBUILD the old infrastructure to provide a renewed, sustainable, and durable transportation system for future generations.
- REPLACE obsolete, broken equipment with clean, innovative, modern replacements, and maintain them.
- INTEGRATE the current system with our numerous other Bay Area transit systems to create greater accessibility and efficiency in our lives.
- PROVIDE a better BART experience to the customer, the rider, and the workers.
In an email, last week, Allen stated “BART needs strong leadership that is willing to stand up for change and hold management accountable for its revitalization.”
Numerous, prominent East Bay leaders have joined in supporting Allen’s campaign, including California State Senator Steve Glazer, a Democrat who has been an outspoken critic of strikes by BART employees, as well as BART operations and finances.
“Debora Allen will bring an important voice and fiscally responsible vote into the BART boardroom. She’s smart, she’s tough, and she’s a problem solver,” Glazer said. “She will stand up to special interests and management incompetence and fight to improve BART while protecting the interest of taxpayers.”
“Debora Allen brings a refreshing new energy and approach to getting BART’s fiscal house in order,” said Assemblywoman Catharine Baker, a Republican. “She will be a champion for the transit rider and taxpayer.”
President of the Association of Bay Area Governments (known as ABAG) and Vice Mayor of Clayton Julie Pierce also endorsed Allen, stating “Our BART system is incredibly important to the residents of Contra Costa County. I am confident that Debora Allen will be strong leadership on the Board of Directors and a loud voice for transparency and financial accountability to the stakeholders as we rebuild BART into a world class transportation system of which we can all be proud.”
Contra Costa County Supervisor Candace Andersen also offered her support.
“Debora Allen brings the business experience and financial acumen we need to lead BART in the right direction,” she stated.
Contra Costa County District Attorney Mark Peterson also endorsed Allen, stating “I trust Debora Allen to protect the taxpayers’ investment in BART, for the riders, the workers, and for the future of Bay Area living.”
Former California State Assemblywoman (1996-2002) Lynne Leach added her support.
“Debora Allen is a talented, trusted and experienced businesswoman,” Leach said. “Her background of working to stem the ever increasing growth of public pension costs prepares her well to serve on the BART Board.”
Also endorsing Allen are Mayor of Pittsburg Ben Johnson, Mayor of Clayton Howard Geller, Pittsburg City Council Member Sal Evola, Contra Costa Community College District Board President Vicki Gordon, Central Contra Costa Sanitary District Board Member and Past President Contra Costa Taxpayers Association Michael McGill, attorney and Contra Costa County Employees Retirement System Board Trustee Scott Gordon, Alamo Municipal Advisory Council Member Steve Mick, Former Mayor of Clayton Pete Laurence, former Walnut Creek School Board Member Dan Walden, and retired BART employee Robert Leach.
“I am an independent, thoughtful, outsider, willing to take on the challenges of the troubled BART system,” Allen said. “I have spent over 25 years in a career in various financial management and board level positions. I now want to use that experience and knowledge to help the BART stakeholders, the riders, the taxpayers, and the BART employees.”
This is Allen’s second run for public office. She ran for State Assembly in the 14th District in the June primary, but did not make the run-off, placing a close third in the race behind the top-two candidates. She has a college degree from Sac State in Business Administration with a concentration in Accounting, is married to Tim Allen and they have two adult sons. They live just outside of Clayton, next to Mt. Diablo State Park.
The election will be on Tuesday, November 8.
Allen Payton contributed to this report.Read More
One day event in October seeks volunteers
Contra Costa will once again have homeless outreach services in the County. Daytime outreach will start in September and consist of two two-person teams, one dedicated to East County and the other to serve Central and West County. Evening outreach will likely begin by early December with one team, and may be enhanced to two teams. All teams will report to a single Coordinator to ensure seamless collaboration and transition between day and night. All teams will receive the same training, utilize the same protocols, and be based on the same model of service delivery.
This new outreach model was the winning design in the State ESG competition, held recently. Day teams and the Coordinator will be County-run, and the night services are presently being sought in the Coordinated Entry RFP which is due in early August. If no other viable candidates are found for evening outreach, the County will likely contract for that function, as well.
Project Homeless Connect will be held at the County Fairgrounds in Antioch on Thursday, October 13th, from 9 am to 3 pm. Homeless Connect is a one-day, one-stop event that provides on-site healthcare, social services and housing resources to persons experiencing homelessness. Community members who would like to learn more about volunteering can register here.Read More
The Contra Costa County Office of the Sheriff would like to call your attention to a scam. Although it is not anything new, it pops up every now and then and usually targets the elderly. Fortunately, the victim in the most recent case last week did not suffer any loss.
The suspect impersonates a Deputy Sheriff and tells people that they have missed jury duty and there is a warrant for their arrest.
The suspect goes on to say the warrant could be cleared by making a “green dot” payment at various local drug stores. There were two phone numbers associated with this scam and they have set up an automated voice message claiming to be the Sheriff’s Office. In another variation of this scam, the suspect tells people they have unpaid parking tickets that can be cleared by purchasing prepaid debit cards at stores.
These are scams. The Office of the Sheriff does not have people pay fines or fees by through reloadable prepaid cards. Furthermore, the public is never contacted in this way.
Anyone receiving such a call should refuse to provide any personal information to the caller or simply hang up. Please contact your local law enforcement agency and notify them of the incident.
Thank you for sharing this post with others.Read More
Contra Costa County Supervisor Mary Nejedly Piepho is seeking qualified, motivated candidates to serve on the following county advisory committees:
County Library Commission
Closing Date: Open Until Filled
The Commission serves in an advisory capacity to the Board of Supervisors and the County Librarian. They provide a community linkage to the County Library and establish a forum for the community to express its views regarding goals and operations of the County Library. The Commission assists the Board of Supervisors and the County Librarian to provide library services based on assessed public needs and develops and recommends proposals to the Board of Supervisors and the County Librarian for the betterment of the County Library including, but not limited to, such efforts as insuring a stable and adequate funding level for the libraries in the County.
The Commission meets on the 4th Thursday of every other month at 7:00 p.m. located at 75 Santa Barbara in Pleasant Hill.
Alcohol and Other Drugs Advisory Board
Closing Date: Open Until Filled
The board assesses family and community needs regarding treatment and prevention of alcohol and drug abuse problems and provides input and recommendations on prevention, intervention, and treatment services to the Contra Costa Health Services Department, the Board of Supervisors, and the communities they serve.
The Board meets on the 4th Wednesday of the month at 3:45 p.m. located at the Alcohol and Other Drugs Services Division, 1220 Morello Avenue, Suite 200 in Martinez.
Emergency Medical Care Committee
Closing Date: Open Until Filled
The Emergency Medical Care Committee (EMCC) function is to review the operations of each of the following at least annually:
- Ambulance services operating within the county.
- Emergency medical care offered within the county,
- First aid practices in the county.
Regular meetings of the EMCC shall be held at least four (4) times per year or more often as deemed necessary. Meetings will convene at 4:00 p.m. on the Second Wednesday of March, June, September, and December unless otherwise directed by the EMCC or its Executive Committee. Location: Contra Costa County Schools Insurance Group, 550 Ellinwood Way, Pleasant Hill, CA.
Family & Children’s Trust Commission
Closing Date: Open Until Filled
The Commission conducts a bi-annual needs assessment on family and children’s services in the County.
The Commission meets on the first Tuesday of each month at 8:30 a.m. located at the Employment and Human Services Dept., 40 Douglas Drive, in Martinez
Discovery Bay P-6 Citizen Advisory Committee
1 seat – Ravenswood Development
Closing Date: Open Until Filled
To make reports and recommendations to the Board of Supervisors on extended police protection services which shall include, but not limited to, enforcement of the State Vehicle Code where authorized by law, crime prevention, and litter control.
The Committee meets on the 2nd Monday of every month at 7:30 p.m. located at 1800 Willow Lake Road in Discovery Bay.
Contra Costa County Fire Protection District’s Fire Advisory Commission
1 Alternate seat
Closing Date: Open Until Filled
The Commission shall review and advise on annual operations and capital budgets; to review district expenditures; to review and advise on long-range capital improvement plans; pursuant to district ordinance to serve as the Appeals Board on weed abatement matters; to advise the Fire Chief on district service matters; to meet jointly with the Board of Supervisors and provide advice to the board as needed; to communicate with the other fire district advisory commissions on services and functional integration; to assist in the Fire Chief’s selection process as required; to serve as liaison between the Board of Supervisors and the community served by each district; to perform such other duties and responsibilities as may be assigned and as directed by the Board of Supervisors.
The Commission meets on the 2nd Monday of February, April, June, August, October and December located at the Administration Building, 2010 Geary Road in Pleasant Hill.
Bethel Island Municipal Advisory Committee
Closing Date: Open Until Filled
The Council shall advise the Board of Supervisors on land use and planning matters affecting the community of Bethel Island and may represent the Bethel Island community before the Board of Supervisors, the East County Regional Planning Commission and the Zoning Administrator on such issues as land use, planning and zoning. The Council may also represent the Bethel Island Community before the Local Agency Formation Commission no proposed boundary changes affecting the community. The Council may advise the Board on services which may be provided to the Bethel Island Community by Contra Costa County or other local governmental agencies.
The Council meets on the 2nd Tuesday of every month at 6:00 p.m. located at Scout Hall, 3190 Ranch Lane in Bethel Island.
The Board of Supervisors receives valuable input and community participation from numerous citizen advisory boards on a range of issues. Boards usually meet monthly on a regular basis.
Candidates for these positions must live in District III or any specified boundary area for special districts. District III is comprised of the cities of Antioch, Brentwood, and Oakley, and the unincorporated communities of Bethel Island, Blackhawk, Byron, Diablo, Discovery Bay, and Knightsen.
For more information visit http://www.co.contra-costa.ca.us/753/Resident-Advisory-Councils.
Click here to download an application from the County’s website. Applications should be submitted to the Clerk of the Board’s office, 925.335.1900, located at 651 Pine Street, Martinez, CA 94553.
For more information, including on how to apply, you may contact Supervisor Piepho’s Deputy Chief of Staff, Lea Castleberry at 925.820.8683.Read More
Join the Bay Area Republican Women Clubs in a lovely winery in East Contra Costa for an afternoon with noted documentary journalist and best-selling author Dinesh D’Souza as he details the impact of the Progressive movement in the USA. His new book Stealing America, was released in November, 2015 and has a rating of almost 90% on Amazon. D’Souza’s new documentary, Hillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party, is based on the book and was released in theaters, nationwide in July, 2016.
In 2010, D’Souza wrote The Roots of Obama’s Rage, described as the most influential political book of the year, set off a firestorm that ultimately led to D’Souza’s first film, 2016: Obama’s America which rose to the second highest grossing political documentary of all time.
In 2012, his second analysis of Obama, Obama’s America: Unmaking the American Dream, climbed to #1 on the New York Times bestseller list.
In D’Souza’s 2014 book, America: Imagine The World Without Her, became the #1 New York Times bestselling book and the movie by the same title was the sixth most successful political documentary of all time. Later that year, D’Souza found himself hauled into federal court for improperly donating money to a friend running for the Senate. He pleaded guilty, apologized, and was sentenced to eight months in a state-run confinement center near his home in San Diego.
VIP $175 per person – 1:30 pm entry
Includes a personalized signed book, professional photo with Dinesh, wine from the venue, and preferred seating for the keynote.
General Admission $100 per person – 2:00 pm entry
Appetizers Served, No Host Bar
About Dinesh D’Souza
Born in Mumbai, India, Dinesh D’Souza came to the U.S. as an exchange student and graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Dartmouth College in 1983.
A former policy analyst in the Reagan White House, D’Souza also served as John M. Olin Fellow at the American Enterprise Instituteand the Robert and Karen Rishwain Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. He served as the president of The King’s College in New York City from 2010 to 2012.
His first book ,Illiberal Education (1991), publicized the phenomenon of political correctness in America’s colleges and universities and became a New York Times bestseller for 15 weeks.
In 1995, D’Souza published The End of Racism, which became one of the most controversial books of the time and another national bestseller. His 1997 book, Ronald Reagan: How an Ordinary Man Became an Extraordinary Leader, was the first book to make the case for Reagan’s intellectual and political importance. D’Souza’s The Virtue of Prosperity (2000) explored the social and moral implications of wealth.
In 2002, D’Souza published his New York Times bestseller What’s So Great About America, which anticipated the case that would need to be made for American exceptionalism and was critically acclaimed for its thoughtful patriotism. His 2003 book, Letters to a Young Conservative, has become a handbook for a new generation of young conservatives inspired by D’Souza’s style and ideas.
In 2010, D’Souza wrote The Roots of Obama’s Rage, which was described as the most influential political book of the year, and set off a firestorm which ultimately led to D’Souza’s first film, 2016: Obama’s America. The film quickly rose to the second highest grossing political documentary of all time.
D’Souza’s second analysis of Obama came in his 2012 book, Obama’s America: Unmaking the American Dream, which climbed to #1 on the New York Times bestseller list.
His 2014 book, America: Imagine The World Without Her, became the #1 New York Times bestselling book and the movie by the same title was the sixth most successful political documentary of all time.
In the fall of 2014, D’Souza found himself hauled into federal court for improperly donating money to a friend who was running for the Senate. D’Souza pleaded guilty, apologized for his offense, and was sentenced to eight months in a state-run confinement center near his home in San Diego.
D’Souza’s latest book Stealing America, rose to #16 on Publisher’s Weekly.Read More
Homicide detectives from the Contra Costa County Office of the Sheriff arrested 69-year-old John Tercheria on Monday, August 8 in connection with the death of his wife in Blackhawk, on Sunday. Tercheria was booked into the Martinez Detention Facility for murder. He is currently being held in lieu of $1 million bail.
At about 4:10 p.m. on Sunday, August 7, 2016, Deputy Sheriffs responded to a suspicious circumstance at a home on the 4300 block of Quail Run Lane in Blackhawk. Deputies arrived on scene and found a 69-year-old woman, who was later pronounced deceased. A homicide investigation was launched. The woman is identified as 69-year-old Linda Marie Tercheria, wife of suspect John Tercheria. They both resided at that home.
Anyone with any information on this case is asked to contact the Office of the Sheriff at (925) 646-2441. For any tips, please email: email@example.com or to call 866-846-3592 to leave an anonymous voice message.Read More
Today, East Bay Regional Park District Director Diane Burgis, candidate for Contra Costa County Supervisor in District Three, earned the enthusiastic endorsement of the Contra Costa County Deputy Sheriffs Association, Antioch Police Officers Association, Sheriff-Coroner David Livingston and District Attorney Mark Peterson, as well as the endorsement recommendation of the Executive Board of the United Professional Firefighters of Contra Costa County, Local 1230.
“We need tough, principled leadership to tackle the long-standing problem of inadequate fire protection coverage in the county,” said Vince Wells, President of the United Professional Firefighters of Contra Costa County, Local 1230. “Diane Burgis is the only candidate for District Three we can trust to get the job done. She’s not just another politician – she has the proven competence and know-how necessary to improve fire protection services for every East County resident.”
Fire and emergency resources in East County are inadequate, leading to longer response times and lower quality fire and emergency services. Multiple district firehouses have closed due to a lack of proper funding.
“Diane Burgis is uniquely qualified to tackle the challenges our county faces,” said Shawn Welch, President of the Contra Costa County Deputy Sheriffs Association. “Under her watch, Oakley was recognized as one of the safest cities in the state. As a city councilmember, she supported police so that they could do their jobs fighting crime. As a park director, she partnered with law enforcement to make sure every tax dollar was spent wisely. I and my fellow deputies are proud to stand with her this November.”
The Contra Costa Deputy Sheriffs Association is dedicated to the security and well-being of Contra Costa’s citizens and the protection of its 830+ employees. The United Professional Firefighters of Contra Costa County, Local 1230 includes over 450 firefighters from the Contra Costa County Fire Protection District, East Contra Costa County Fire District and various city fire departments. The Antioch Police Officers Association represents 120 police officers serving in the Antioch Police Department.
“Diane Burgis asks the right questions, listens closely to her constituents and then fights on their behalf,” said David Livingston, Contra Costa County Sheriff-Coroner. “I know I can count on her. She’s not one to pick political expediency over doing the right thing. She’s mastered the issues and demonstrated true skill as a leader, building coalitions and solving problems while putting a high priority on public safety.”
Diane Burgis currently serves as an East Bay Regional Parks District director and is the executive director of the Friends of Marsh Creek Watershed. Previously, she served as an Oakley city councilmember and spent over ten years as a small business owner. She highlights four priorities for her candidacy: improving public safety, attracting economic development, ensuring fiscal accountability and preserving the delta for future generations.
“Diane will work hard to develop the resources our police, firefighters and prosecutors need to keep us safe,” said Contra Costa County District Attorney Mark Peterson. “As a small business owner, nonprofit manager and public official, she has proven that she can balance a budget and defend taxpayers. I endorse her with no reservations – our county needs a real leader on the board.”
Diane Burgis is also endorsed by County Supervisor Mary Piepho, Assemblymember Joan Buchanan and a broad coalition of elected officials and leaders from every city and community in the district.
“I am honored by this extraordinary vote of confidence from our county’s bravest public servants,” said Diane Burgis, Candidate for Contra Costa County Supervisor in District Three. “I pledge to work collaboratively with our firefighters, sheriffs and every district resident to find effective solutions as we work together to improve public safety for all.”
Voters can learn more about her and her platform at www.dianeburgis.com.Read More
In July, Governor Brown signed a bill by Assembly Member Jim Frazier (D – Oakley) to remedy an inconsistency within the State Highway Operation and Protection (SHOPP) by stating that projects relating to operational improvements on state highways are eligible for inclusion in the program.
“I commend the Governor for signing AB 2289 into law,” said Frazier. “This bill adds another layer of transparency to ensure that these funds are used in the appropriate manner. As we increasingly look to traffic operation improvements to provide greater efficiencies in the operation of the state highway system, AB 2289 makes it abundantly clear that these operational improvements are to be included in the SHOPP.”
For nearly 20 years, investments in state highways, bridges, and projects to improve traffic operations facilities have always been included in the SHOPP. Oddly, current law governing the preparation of the SHOPP does not explicitly include operational improvement projects in the list of projects to be included in the SHOPP. AB 2289 puts the ‘O’ in the SHOPP.
“The Commission appreciates Assembly Member Frazier’s leadership to ensure that operational capital improvements are included as an eligible component for asset management planning and capital expenditure through the SHOPP,” stated Susan Bransen, Executive Director of the California Transportation Commission.
AB 2289 had the support of the California Transportation Commission, Automobile Club of Southern California, San Diego Association of Governments, Associated General Contractors, Transportation Agency for Monterey County, and San Francisco County Transportation Commission. This bill passed through the legislature with widespread bipartisan support and will become effective on January 1, 2016.
Assemblymember Frazier represents the 11th Assembly District, which includes the communities of Antioch, Bethel Island, Birds Landing, Brentwood, Byron, Collinsville, Discovery Bay, Fairfield, Isleton, Knightsen, Locke, Oakley, Pittsburg (partial), Rio Vista, Suisun City, Travis AFB, Vacaville and Walnut Grove.Read More
Blue Shield of California Foundation recognizes STAND! for Families Free of Violence as a critical leader in California’s domestic violence field
Blue Shield of California Foundation (BSCF) announced on Tuesday, August 2, 2016 a grant of $15,000 to STAND! for Families Free of Violence (STAND!) to support its capacity to provide essential services and shelter for survivors of domestic violence and their families. These core operating funds offer the flexibility to respond to new demands and opportunities so that STAND! can continue to reach many of the most vulnerable Californians.
“Domestic violence can happen to anyone, and impacts everyone. Though we all have a role to play, it is organizations like STAND! that are there when women, children, men, and families need help the most,” said Peter Long, Ph.D., president and CEO of Blue Shield of California Foundation. “STAND! is making our communities safer and healthier every single day, and we remain committed to ensuring that they – and the entire field – have the resources and adaptability to support survivors and bring us closer to ending domestic violence in California.”
“We are really grateful that Blue Shield California Foundation has awarded us this grant. This will help strengthen our ability to save lives, rebuild families, and change the future for our clients. We are truly proud and happy to partner with BSCF in the movement to end domestic violence in California,” expressed Gloria Sandoval, CEO of STAND!
This unrestricted funding is part of a group of grants designed to strengthen and empower domestic violence service providers and enable them to adjust to unexpected changes and challenges. As California’s largest private funder of domestic violence prevention and services, the Foundation is proud to support STAND! through this grant.
About Blue Shield of California Foundation
Blue Shield of California Foundation is one of the state’s largest and most trusted philanthropic organizations. Our mission is to end domestic violence and improve health equity for low-income and underserved Californians. To learn more, visit www.blueshieldcafoundation.org.
About STAND! for Families Free of Violence
STAND! for Families Free of Violence is a catalyst for breaking the multi-generational cycle of violence, promoting safe and strong relationships, and rebuilding lives.” It is the oldest and the only agency in Contra Costa County that works to save lives, rebuild families, and change the future. To learn more, visit www.standffov.org.Read More