Due Sept. 24; Academy begins Oct. 13
By Scott Alonso, PIO, Contra Costa County Office of the District Attorney
District Attorney Diana Becton announced Tuesday, that the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office will launch a fourth Community Academy class this October. The goal of the academy will be to strengthen community relations and provide residents a better understanding of our criminal justice system. Given the COVID-19 pandemic, this fall’s class will be limited, and social distancing measures will be followed. Participants will be required to wear a mask while participating during the academy.
The academy is free and is open to residents who live or work in Contra Costa County. Individuals must complete an application and background check when they apply. Residents can access an application on our website or residents may also apply in-person at one of our offices at the following locations:
- 900 Ward Street, Martinez, CA 94553
- 10 Douglas Drive Suite 130, Martinez, CA 94553
- 100 37th St. Room 220, Richmond, CA 94805
Residents can submit the applications to the attention of Scott Alonso. Applicants may also email DA-CommunityAcademy@contracostada.org with their completed application. The application period ends on September 24, 2021.
The Community Academy will be made up of at least 10 individuals for a 9-week course held at the DA’s Office in downtown Martinez, 900 Ward Street from 5:30-7:30 p.m. every Wednesday starting October 13, 2021. The Community Academy, which is similar to Citizens’ Academies hosted by many law enforcement agencies, is the only academy of its kind at a District Attorney’s Office in Northern California.
The academy helps underscore the office’s commitment to engaging and educating residents of Contra Costa County. Admitted applicants can expect to learn how cases are filed, the different types of crimes our office investigates and prosecutes, and the work we do not only prosecuting cases but also the community outreach efforts underway to prevent crime and to support children, parents and crime victims. The comprehensive overview by our office will allow residents to get an in-depth examination and review of the criminal justice system in our community.Read More
Victims from Bay Point and Oakley identified
By CHP – Contra Costa
Saturday night, Sept. 4, 2021, at approximately 11:14 pm, CHP Contra Costa was advised of a vehicle vs. pedestrians collision at 8321 Byron Hwy in Knightsen. Upon CHP and emergency personnel arrival, two pedestrians had been struck by a vehicle and that vehicle (a 2002 Subaru Impreza), along with the driver (18-year-old male from Knightsen), were also located. Tragically both pedestrians were killed as a result of the crash (18-year-old female from Bay Point and 16-year-old male from Oakley).
The Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Coroner’s Office identified the deceased pedestrians as Kassandra Sepulveda of Bay Point and Luis Esparza of Oakley.
The 18-year-old driver of the Subaru was investigated for DUI at the scene and subsequently placed under arrest for suspicion of Felony DUI driving, resulting in the death of both pedestrians. The driver was transported to the Martinez detention facility and booked into jail for: FELONY DUI 23153(a)VC and Gross Vehicular Manslaughter 191.5(a)PC.
The suspected DUI and Manslaughter driver is Colby Sharver.Read More
Application deadline Sept. 30
Contra Costa County (County) is accepting applications for the upcoming Member at Large opening on the Aviation Advisory Committee (AAC). The term begins March 1, 2022, upon appointment by the Airport Committee, and expires on February 28, 2025. Residents of and/or employees in Contra Costa County are eligible to fill this position to represent all County stakeholders in matters related to Buchanan Field and Byron Airports.
The AAC serves as an advisory group to the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors (Board) to provide advice and recommendations to the Board on aviation matters related to the Contra Costa County Airports. The AAC typically meets once per month on the second Thursday of the month at 10:00 a.m., in person or via Zoom during the pandemic at either Buchanan Field or Byron Airport.
Application forms can be obtained from the Clerk of the Board of Supervisors by calling (925) 655-2000 or at: https://www.contracosta.ca.gov/3418/Appointed-Bodies-Committees-Commissions. Applications should be submitted online or returned to the Clerk of the Board of Supervisors, County Administration Building, 1025 Escobar Street, 1st Floor, Martinez, CA 94553, no later than 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, September 30, 2021. Applicants should plan to be available for public/Zoom interviews, tentatively scheduled for December 8, 2021 at 11:00 am at the Airports Committee Meeting.
For more information on the Contra Costa County Airports or the AAC visit us at www.ContraCostaCountyAirports.org or by calling (844) Fly-ToUs or (844) 359-8687.
CONTACT: Keith Freitas at (844) 359-8687, or via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
By Scott Alonso, PIO, Contra Costa County Office of the District Attorney
Last week, defendant Donald Kelly of Bay Point (date of birth October 31, 1980) was found guilty of attempted criminal threats, a felony, and brandishing a replica firearm, a misdemeanor, against a female victim. Kelly faces up to three years in state prison for the attempted criminal threats conviction.
On March 2, 2021, the victim was in a car outside an apartment complex on the corner of Belle Monte Ave and Willow Pass Road in Bay Point. The defendant appeared outside the victim’s car and held what appeared to be a semi-automatic firearm and pointed it at the victim’s head. Kelly yelled at the victim and stated, “This is a real gun.” Another witness who observed the interaction between Kelly and the victim heard Kelly also yell that he was going to shoot the victim. Kelly fled the scene after the victim called 911. He was detained shortly after he left the scene. When Kelly was detained, deputies located a replica Sig Sauer P226 firearm.
Deputy District Attorney Haleigh Parkinson prosecuted the case on behalf of the People. The defendant will be sentenced on September 17 before the Honorable Wade Rhyne. The case was investigated by the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office. The DA’s Office originally filed criminal charges against Kelly in March of this year.
Case information: People v. Donald Kelly, Docket Number 04-201411-6.Read More
The Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) reminds travelers that tolling operations for the new 11-mile Express Lane along southbound Interstate 680 from Martinez through Walnut Creek have now started.
By linking with the existing Express Lane from Rudgear Road in Walnut Creek to Alcosta Boulevard in San Ramon, this will create a continuous 22-mile southbound I-680 Express Lane through Contra Costa County.
The stretch of I-680 from Marina Vista Blvd. in Martinez to Rudgear Road currently operates as a traditional carpool lane. Tolling rules include:
- All vehicles must have a FasTrak® toll tag to use the Express Lanes;
- Carpools with two or more people, vanpools, buses and motorcycles travel toll-free with a FasTrak Flex toll tag set to the 2 or 3+ position;
- Solo drivers of eligible clean-air vehicles (CAVs) pay half-price tolls with a FasTrak CAV toll tag. Eligible CAVs are those with red, purple, orange or blue decals; and
- Other solo drivers pay the full toll to use the Express Lanes with either a standard FasTrak toll tag or a FasTrak Flex tag set to the 1 position.
Operating hours for Express Lanes are weekdays from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tolls rise as traffic increases and fall as traffic declines. Digital signs over the roadway display the toll rates for various destinations. Customers always pay the toll displayed when they enter the Express Lane, even if toll rates change during their trip. Toll-paying customers pay for each toll zone they enter. There are five southbound toll zones from Martinez to San Ramon.
Express Lanes are designed to keep traffic moving reliably without congestion, and to encourage travelers to carpool or use transit to get a free and faster trip. Drivers can visit 511.org to learn everything they need to know to use Bay Area Express Lanes, how to find a carpool match, and how to sign up for FasTrak.Read More
By U.S. Department of Justice
Sutter Health, a California-based health care services provider, and several affiliated entities including Sutter Bay Medical Foundation (dba Palo Alto Medical Foundation, Sutter East Bay Medical Foundation, and Sutter Pacific Medical Foundation) and Sutter Valley Medical Foundation (dba Sutter Gould Medical Foundation and Sutter Medical Foundation) (collectively, “Sutter Health”), have agreed to pay $90 million to resolve allegations that Sutter Health violated the False Claims Act by knowingly submitting inaccurate information about the health status of beneficiaries enrolled in Medicare Advantage Plans.
Under Medicare Advantage, also known as the Medicare Part C program, Medicare beneficiaries have the option of enrolling in managed health care insurance plans called Medicare Advantage Plans. The plans are paid a capitated, or per-person, amount to provide Medicare-covered benefits to beneficiaries who enroll in one of their plans. Payments to plans are based on demographic information and the health status of each plan beneficiary. In general, plans receive larger payments for beneficiaries with more severe diagnoses.
Sutter Health, headquartered in Sacramento, contracted to provide health care services to California beneficiaries enrolled in certain plans. In exchange, Sutter Health received a portion of the payments for treating the beneficiaries under its care.
The government alleged that Sutter Health knowingly submitted unsupported diagnosis codes for certain patient encounters for beneficiaries under its care. These unsupported diagnosis codes caused inflated payments to be made to the plans and to Sutter Health. The lawsuit further alleged that, once Sutter Health became aware of these unsupported diagnosis codes, it failed to take sufficient corrective action to identify and delete additional unsupported diagnosis codes.
“The government relies on health care providers, including those furnishing services to Medicare Part C beneficiaries, to submit accurate information to ensure proper payment,” said Deputy Assistant Attorney General Sarah E. Harrington of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “Today’s result sends a clear message that we will hold health care providers responsible if they knowingly provide or fail to correct information that is untruthful.”
“Today’s settlement exemplifies our commitment to fighting fraud in the Medicare program,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Stephanie M. Hinds for the Northern District of California. “Health care providers who flout the law need to know that my office will hold accountable those who pad their bottom line at taxpayer expense.”
“The knowing submission of inaccurate information to Medicare diverts funds from this vital health care program, which is a disservice to patients needing care,” said Special Agent in Charge Steven J. Ryan for the Office of Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to protect the integrity of federal health care programs and hold accountable entities who engage in false claims practices.”
In connection with the settlement, Sutter Health, Sutter Bay Medical Foundation and Sutter Valley Medical Foundation entered into a five-year Corporate Integrity Agreement (CIA) with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG). The CIA requires, among other things, that Sutter Health implement a centralized risk assessment program as part of its compliance program and hire an Independent Review Organization to annually review a sample of Sutter Health’s Medicare Advantage patients’ medical records and associated diagnoses data.
The civil settlement includes the resolution of claims brought under the qui tam or whistleblower provisions of the False Claims Act by Kathleen Ormsby, a former employee of Palo Alto Medical Foundation. Under those provisions, a private party can file an action on behalf of the United States and receive a portion of any recovery. The Act permits the government to intervene in such lawsuits, as it has done in this case as to claims submitted for the Palo Alto Medical Foundation. Although the United States did not intervene as to claims submitted by the remaining Sutter affiliates, Ms. Ormsby continued to pursue those claims, some of which are also being resolved by this settlement. The qui tam case is captioned United States ex rel. Ormsby v. Sutter Health, et al., No. 15-CV-01062-LB (N.D. Cal.).
The resolution obtained in this matter resulted from a coordinated effort between the Justice Department’s Civil Division, Commercial Litigation Branch, Fraud Section, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California, with assistance from HHS-OIG.
The investigation and resolution of this matter illustrate the government’s emphasis on combating health care fraud. One of the most powerful tools in this effort is the False Claims Act. Tips and complaints from all sources about potential fraud, waste, abuse and mismanagement, can be reported to the Department of Health and Human Services at 800-HHS-TIPS (800-447-8477).
The matter was handled by Attorneys Olga Yevtukhova, Jennifer J. Koh, Thomas Morris and Lyle Gruby of the Civil Division’s Fraud Section and by Assistant U.S. Attorney Benjamin Wolinsky for the Northern District of California, with assistance from Jonathan Birch.
Sutter Health Responds
Sutter Health on Monday, Aug. 30, 2021 announced that it has entered into an agreement with the federal government and a private plaintiff to resolve a False Claims Act lawsuit filed in 2015 involving Medicare Advantage claims related to its medical foundation operations. The matter was partially resolved in April 2019 for $30 million (a fact not included by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) in its press release regarding the settlement). Under the follow-on agreement announced today, Sutter will pay an additional $60 million (not $90 million) to fully resolve the litigation. The agreement makes clear that Sutter and its medical foundation affiliates admit no liability in agreeing to settle the matter.
As part of this resolution, Sutter has also concurrently entered into a Corporate Integrity Agreement (CIA) with the Office of Inspector General (OIG) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The CIA, Sutter’s first, is intended to promote compliance with federal healthcare program requirements over a period of five years and includes specific elements that must be in place and monitored.
Sutter’s Ethics and Compliance Services team is responsible for overseeing Sutter’s compliance with the CIA. Sutter looks forward to collaborating with OIG over the term of the agreement. In 2017, PricewaterhouseCoopers conducted a compliance program assessment finding Sutter’s program to be effective, with several areas identified as leading practices. Sutter has since maintained and enhanced these program elements and is well-prepared to implement the terms of the agreement.
Today’s agreements bring closure to a long-running dispute, allowing Sutter to avoid the uncertainty and further expense of protracted litigation, and enabling a constructive relationship with the government as we work together under the CIA.
The claims resolved by the settlement are allegations only and there has been no determination of liability.
By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Bryan Niegel, Navy Office of Community Outreach
MILLINGTON, Tenn. – A Oakley, California, native is serving aboard USS Iwo Jima, a U.S. Navy Wasp class amphibious assault ship.
Petty Officer 3rd Class Benjamin Martin is a 2019 Freedom High School graduate. Today Martin serves as a machinery repairman.
Machinery repairman use large machines such as lathes and mills to manufacture parts that the ship may need to make repairs. They fix pieces that may be damaged or worm out from routine use.
Martin joined the Navy one year ago for the opportunities serving provides.
“I joined the Navy to gain unique experiences and to provide for my family,” said Martin.
According to Martin, the values required to succeed in the military are similar to those found in Oakley.
“One thing that has really helped me succeed in the Navy that I learned back home is being around all kinds of people, growing up in Northern California, it’s very diverse and there’s a lot of people who think very differently than you,” said Martin. “The same goes for the Navy.”
Iwo Jima is the seventh Wasp-class amphibious assault ship and the second ship in the U.S. Navy to bear that name. The ship was named for the Battle of Iwo Jima of World War II.
According to Navy officials, amphibious assault ships are designed to deliver U.S. Marines and their equipment where they are needed to support a variety of missions ranging from amphibious assaults to humanitarian relief efforts. Designed to be versatile, the ship has the option of simultaneously using helicopters, Harrier jets, and Landing Craft Air Cushioned, as well as conventional landing craft and assault vehicles in various combinations.
Martin’s favorite part of working in the Navy is having pride in work.
“The best thing about this command is the immense amount of pride we have in the work we do,” said Martin. “Everyone pitches in and supports the mission at hand.”
Though there are many opportunities for sailors to earn recognition in their command, community and careers, Martin is most proud of success in schools.
“My most proud moment is earning top graduate in both of my schools, which led to earning a promotion,” said Martin.
As a member of the U.S. Navy, Martin, as well as other sailors, know they are a part of a service tradition providing unforgettable experiences through leadership development, world affairs and humanitarian assistance. Their efforts will have a lasting effect around the globe and for generations of sailors who will follow.
“Serving in the Navy has taught me so much about other people but even more about myself,” added Martin. “Our minds are so much stronger than we give ourselves credit for, there’s not much we can’t do if we just get up and do it.Read More
Discount will apply to all fares on Clipper and will be stackable with Youth, Senior, RTC, Clipper Start and Gator Pass Clipper discounts.
The discount will apply to all fares on Clipper and will be stackable with other Clipper discounts. That means 50% off will be given on top of already discounted Clipper cards such as Youth, Senior, RTC, Clipper Start, and the Gator Pass.
The reduced fare will be automatically deducted when using Clipper at the fare gates. Our online Trip Planner and Fare Calculator have been updated to show discounted fares during the month of September. While BART will share discounted fares with other apps and websites , we can’t guarantee that non-BART sources will display them.
Printed fare charts at vending machines in each station will not be changed for the month of September but a large decal will be posted noting there is 50% off the published fares.
BART is extending the discount to welcome riders back to the system and to thank those who have continued to ride throughout the pandemic. BART’s ridership continues to grow each week. Current weekday ridership is at 100,000 trips, representing 25% of pre-COVID weekday ridership. Weekends are recovering at a faster rate. Weekend ridership is at 45K-65K trips, representing 40% of pre-COVID weekend ridership.
As of September 1, the various transit agencies that connect with BART will have new schedules in place that offer improved connections between systems. Many agencies are also offering discounts and other special promotions during the month of September.
Visit www.AllAboardBayArea.com for details on how all 27 Bay Area agencies are collaborating to deliver services that will restart our region and get people where they need to go.
The discount is only available when using Clipper. It is not available on magstripe paper tickets. 98.6% of our riders use Clipper cards. There is a one-time $3 fee to purchase a new Clipper card from a BART station vending machine. Clipper is currently offering free Clipper cards when setting up a new Clipper card using the new Clipper app. The card is also free if you order it online and set up automatic reloading.
Clipper Discount Cards
BART’s 50% off in September promotion is stackable with other Clipper discounts available for youth, seniors, riders with disabilities, and low-income adult riders. Proof of eligibility is required for discount Clipper cards and therefore are not available at station vending machines.
- Youth 5-18 years old get 50% off BART with a youth Clipper card.
- Seniors 65 and over get 62.5% off BART with a Senior Clipper card.
- Qualifying low-income adult riders get 20% off BART with Clipper START.
- Riders with qualifying disabilities get 62.5% off BART with the RTC Clipper card.
Youth, senior, and START cards are all free and BART does not charge for RTC cards when obtained at our customer service window at the Lake Merritt Station.Read More
Faces possible prison sentence of almost 35 years
By Scott Alonso, PIO, Contra Costa County Office of the District Attorney
Earlier this month, defendant Brandon Lamont Lindsey of Antioch (born March 20, 1994) was found guilty as charged for the attempted murder and attempted robbery of a Yuba City man. Further, a Contra Costa County jury found true the enhancements listed in the charges against Lindsey, including the discharge of a firearm causing great bodily injury.
Antioch Police believed the incident to be an attempted robbery at the time. (See related article)
On September 21, 2018, Lindsey arranged to sell opioids to the victim and the victim’s partner in Antioch. Specifically, Lindsey told the victim to meet him on Cavallo Road. Before this meeting, the victim and defendant did not know each or other. The drug sale was set up by a mutual friend of the victim. Upon the pair meeting for the first time on Cavallo Road, Lindsey instructed the victim to bring his car down an isolated road for the sale.
Lindsey conveyed to the victim that his associate would bring the pills in a separate car. Moments after the victim moved his car, another car was positioned and blocked the driveway, which prevented the victim from leaving the scene. Lindsey approached the victim and pulled out a firearm and demanded money. Lindsey fired three times inside the car at point blank range. One bullet struck the victim through his left arm causing a partial loss of mobility in his left hand. Lindsey used a 9mm handgun during the attempted murder and attempted robbery.
In total, the jury found Lindsey guilty of four counts:
- Attempted Murder
- Enhancement 1, Personal and Intentional Discharge of a Firearm, Causing Great Bodily Injury
- Shooting at Occupied Motor Vehicle
- Enhancement 2, Personal and Intentional Discharge of a Firearm, Causing Great Bodily Injury
- Assault with a Semiautomatic Firearm
- Enhancement 3, Use of a Firearm
- Attempted Second Degree Robbery
- Enhancement 4, Personal and Intentional Discharge of a Firearm, Causing Great Bodily Injury
Deputy District Attorney Kate Dunbar prosecuted the case on behalf of the People. The defendant will be sentenced on October 15 before the Honorable Charles Burch. Lindsey faces up to 34 years and 8 months to life in state prison. The case was investigated by the Antioch Police Department.
Case information: People v. Brandon Lamont Lindsey, Docket Number 05-200113-9.
Allen Payton contributed to this report.Read More