Did You Know ...
From the Office of the Alameda County District Attorney
Nancy E. O'Malley, District Attorney
District Attorney's Office Involved with Neighborhood Groups
In an ongoing effort to engage the community, create
innovative crime-fighting strategies and address the public's concerns about
neighborhood safety, the DA's Office and District Attorney Nancy
O'Malley regularly meet with neighborhood groups and community leaders. On March, 24, 2010, Ms. O'Malley spoke at the
Oakland Neighborhood Watch Steering Committee's gathering. There she addressed the topics of gang
violence, crime victim's services, mortgage fraud and the Office's Human
Exploitation and Trafficking Watch Program called H.E.A.T. Watch. The group also discussed the coordination and
collaboration between the police and community groups.
On March 31, Ms. O'Malley met with the Hayward Neighborhood
alerts program to discuss similar issues confronting the Hayward Community.
In a similar effort to bring the community, law enforcement
and schools together to address the problem of habitual truancy, the DA's
Office chaired a meeting of Oakland Unified's Truancy Task Force at Castlemont High School on March 9, 2010. The DA's Office and OUSD will continue
hosting series of meetings around the city of Oakland to engage community groups,
schools and other stakeholders in addressing chronic absenteeism.
Members of the DA's Office will continue this outreach in
the future. The close interaction
between neighborhood and community groups and the District Attorney's Office
remains a priority and will allow for a greater sense of cooperation, communication
Alameda County School District Truancy Program Wins Statewide Award
Lorenzo Unified School District was recognized for its
model Student Attendance Review Board (SARB) by the California Office of
Education. The Alameda County District
Attorney's Office Truancy Unit
works closely with the SARB team in a
partnership to reduce habitual truancy. This
prestigious award is given annually to a school district in order to identify and
recognize outstanding results-based school attendance improvement programs. These
model programs provide direct services to high-risk youth with persistent
school attendance or school behavior problems.
San Lorenzo's collaborative
Board consists of school district staff, probation officers, law enforcement
and counseling and social services. Last
school year, the Board saw a total of 86 families and was successful in
improving the attendance of 63 of those families. The remaining 23 toughest
cases were referred to the District Attorney's Office and legal proceedings
aimed at truancy reduction began. According
to the SARB Board, " The DA's Office has been tremendously helpful in many ways. One of the most important is just being able
to tell students and families that if their attendance doesn't improve, we will
be making a referral to the D.A. Knowing
that we are serious about making a referral to the District Attorney's Office is pretty powerful, especially
since we have done it and the word gets around. It is the collaboration of all the local agencies working
together to strategize with families, combined with the support and follow
through of your office, that makes us so successful."
On March 11, 2010, Alameda County Senior Deputy District
Attorney Mark Hutchins appeared before the California Court of Appeal in San Francisco to appeal a
dismissal of a significant felony drug possession by a 995 judge in the case of
People v. Gideon Shafrir. In that case
the preliminary hearing judge denied a defense motion to suppress evidence, ruling
that CHP officers acted reasonably
when they arrested a driver for DUI and then decided to tow his expensive, brand
new car rather than leave it parked in a high crime area after midnight. The 995 judge reversed the magistrate and
dismissed the case, finding that CHP guidelines did not expressly permit
officers to tow a car for safety reasons.
panel consisting of Presiding Justice Sandra Margulies and two other
distinguished justices, Mr. Hutchins argued forcefully and convincingly that
the officers behaved reasonably, and that the ruling of the preliminary hearing
judge was correct. The Court of Appeal
granted the appeal and reversed the order dismissing the information under
section 995 on March 29, 2009. Criminal
charges have been reinstated.
Mr. Hutchin's written conclusion in his brief to the Court
of Appeal sums up his winning argument:
"In conclusion, the decision confronting Officers Tenney and
Smith was quite simple: they could either tow respondent's new Mercedes Benz to
a safe place, or they could leave it unattended on the street in a crime-ridden
area of Oakland
at around 4 A.M., not knowing how long it might sit there before Mr. Shafrir
would be able to retrieve it.
And, of course, if the officers had left it there, and if Mr.
Shafrir's car or his $50,000 were stolen before he was released from jail, the
officers would have been harshly and justifiably criticized by the CHP and
especially Mr. Shafrir. To paraphrase the court in People v. Scigliano (1987) 196
We have no doubt Mr. Shafrir would sing a different tune had
the officers simply abandoned his Mercedes, and his car and the $50,000
disappeared before he could return to retrieve them. (At p. 30.)
The facts of this case demonstrate that the decision made by
Officers Tenney and Smith was objectively reasonable, and that they based it on
a consideration of the appropriate circumstances. Accordingly, the ruling of
the trial court should be reversed."
|Court Closure Days 2010
The Alameda County Superior Court will be closed the third
Wednesday of each month. The closures,
which will be treated as holidays for judicial business purposes, are a result
of funding reductions. Court closures
will take place in every county throughout the state. |
The following dates
are planned court closures:
April 21, 2010
May 19, 2010
June 16, 2010
No court business will be conducted on these dates. This includes both jury service and traffic
court. The Superior Courts' web site
has additional information regarding the closures:
Defendants Convicted of Multiple Murders
with Special Circumstances following Brutal Crime Spree
A jury convicted defendants
Stefon Johnson and Hezekiah Edwards each of two counts of first degree murder
with special circumstances and one count of attempted murder on Friday, March
19, 2010. The convictions stem from a
brutal crime spree that began on March 24, 2006 in Antioch when Edwards and Johnson attempted to
kidnap victims Johnny Denton and Willie Lavall Jr. at gun-point. When they tried to escape, both victims were
shot and Lavall was dragged to death as the defendants sped away from the scene
in a rented minivan.
Later the same day, a pizza
delivery man in Antioch
was listening to a police scanner and heard the description of the minivan that
fled the shooting scene. He spotted a
similar looking van in the area and noted the license plate, which he provided
to the police. The Antioch Police later
tracked the van to a car rental agency at the Oakland Airport. They located the van and discovered blood
underneath it. The van had been rented
by Aberial Bradley, a family friend of defendant Edwards.
An employee of the rental
car agency tipped off the defendants about the police locating the van. The defendants decided to kill Bradley to
prevent her from talking to authorities.
With the help of Edward's girlfriend, the defendants set up a trap and
lured Bradley to a residence in Oakland. There, an unidentified gunman shot Bradley
six times as she was seated in her car, killing her.
"We are extremely pleased
with the jury's verdicts. The defendants
in this case were particularly vicious.
Both the Antioch
and Oakland Police Departments did an outstanding job investigating these
brutal murders and gathering the evidence that allowed us to present a very
compelling case at trial," states Deputy District Attorney John Brouhard, the
prosecutor of the case.
"We commend the coordinated
effort of the police agencies that worked together to ensure that justice
prevailed and allowed these dangerous killers to be removed from our
streets. We hope that these verdicts
will bring some solace to the surviving family members of the murdered
victims," says District Attorney Nancy E. O'Malley.
Both defendants are
scheduled to be sentenced on June 4, 2010.
They face a sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of
|College Counselor Convicted of Forgery, Identity
Theft Related to Real Estate Fraud Scheme
March 1, jurors in Alameda County Superior Court convicted Shirley J. Robinson,
a counselor and Department Chair at the College of Alameda, in a real estate
fraud and identity theft scheme perpetrated at the height of the real estate
boom of 2005.
jury deliberated for five hours before returning guilty verdicts against
Robinson on 10 felony counts of forgery and identity theft in a scheme designed
to take legal title away from Robinson's friend of 50 years, Alze Roberts, on a
house located in a residential neighborhood of Oakland. Robinson was remanded into custody
immediately following the jury verdict where she will remain until her
sentencing date on March 29, 2010 in Department 5 of the Alameda County
1998, victim Roberts had taken title to the property from her friend Robinson
to help prevent the home from going into foreclosure. In 2005, after victim Roberts had invested
substantial money into the property, defendant Robinson wanted to purchase the
property back from victim Roberts. When
victim Roberts disagreed over the sales price, Robinson created a forged power-of-attorney in an attempt to sell the property without victim Robert's
knowledge. Robinson, who owed over
$175,000 in state and federal back taxes, planned to use the equity in the
property to pay off the back taxes. In
addition to forging the name of victim Roberts, Robinson also stole the
identity of three other individuals to make the forged power of attorney look
case highlights the greed that existed during the real estate boom from
2005-2007," said David Lim, a member of the real estate fraud unit of the
Alameda County District Attorney's Office and the lead prosecutor in the
case. "Defendant Robinson was
driven by greed and a desire to use the equity in a home she no longer owned to
try and pay off outstanding debts."
"We are grateful to the jury for holding
defendant Robinson accountable for her crimes.
Our office will always strive to protect innocent victims from having
their identity stolen for illegal purposes," says DA Nancy O'Malley.
Attorney Arrested for Role in Staged Auto Accident Insurance Fraud Scheme
On March 30, 2010, a Los Angeles attorney, Susana Ragos Chung, surrendered on an arrest warrant obtained by the Alameda County District Attorney's Office for her role in a widespread automobile insurance fraud scheme occurring in the Bay Area. She has been charged with 28 felony offenses following a long investigation known as "Phantom Menace" that was conducted jointly by the Alameda County District Attorney's Office, the Fraud Division of the California Department of Insurance and the California Highway Patrol.
The charges against Chung and her office manager, Ingrid Attillo, indicate that for several years she acted as the conduit of fraudulent insurance claims associated with a large number of "staged accidents" in Northern California. The fraud ring included a "capper" who orchestrated the fake accidents by recruiting the drivers and passengers who would say they were in the "accidents," the auto body shop willing to falsify repair records and the medical providers willing to falsify medical records. Once the recruitment and information gathering was complete, it would be forwarded to Chung and she would submit the fraudulent insurance claims to a variety of insurance companies. The capper, Norberto "Chito" Mora, is currently serving an 8 year prison sentence for his role in the fraud ring.
Investigators determined that Chung paid Mora for the cases and then submitted claims on behalf of "clients" whom she had never met or even talked to. When confronted by investigators, many of these participants indicated that they never even knew they had a lawyer. Most of the purported "accidents" were not memorialized with a police report, many of the "accidents" occurred at the same locations, virtually every "accident" involved multiple passengers, most of the "accidents" led to all the participants going to the same chiropractor (who was not their regular doctor), far away from their homes, and the same small stable of chiropractors (three of whom have now been convicted of felony insurance fraud) was repeatedly used in Mora's cases.
According to District Attorney O'Malley, "large insurance fraud schemes are often highly sophisticated. An essential part of such a criminal enterprise is the attorney who acts as a front for the organization by submitting claims on behalf of clients. This investigation required extensive and diligent investigation, entailing the meticulous collection of circumstantial evidence. We are therefore very proud of our success in partnering with the Department of Insurance and the Highway Patrol in this case."
Since the investigation began in 2006, the Alameda County District Attorney's Office has obtained 94 convictions of individual defendants involved in this ring, including 63 felony convictions.
March 2010 - Felony Verdicts
On March 25, 2010, a jury convicted Kaian
Brandon of murder and assault resulting in death of a child under the
age of 8. The victim was three-year-old Kiara "Kiki" Irwine. She was
beaten to death by Brandon, her mother's live-in boyfriend, on November
11, 2005, in their San Leandro apartment. Kiki was a healthy and happy
baby on Thursday, November 10, 2005. When her mother left for work at
3:00 am, she left her children in the defendant's care. Defendant woke
up on November 11, 2005, which was his 24th birthday. It was also
Veteran's Day, a school holiday, so he was saddled with taking care of
four children, three of whom were not his biological children. Kiki was
in the process of potty-training and she had an accident on the bedroom
floor. Defendant beat her to death and was overheard by a next-door
neighbor saying, "I don't care if you die!" Cause of death was multiple
blunt injuries, the most severe of which was a transected pancreas.
Sentencing date is 6/24/10 and his exposure is 25 years to life in
prison. The prosecutor was DDA Stacie Pettigrew.
Michael Collins was found guilty of first
degree murder on March 25, 2010. He was convicted of killing Albert
Hayes on August 31, 2001, in Oakland. Collins stabbed Hayes to death
when he found Hayes in the company of his ex-girlfriend. The sentencing
date is April 26, 2010; the defendant's exposure is 26 years to life in
Prison. The Prosecutor was DDA Lindsey Walsh.
jury convicted defendants Stefon Johnson and Hezekaih Edwards of two
counts of first degree murder with special circumstances and one count
of attempted murder on Friday, March 19, 2010. The convictions stem
from a brutal crime spree that began in Antioch on March 24, 2006, with
the murder of Willie Lavell Jr. and attempted murder of Johnny Edwards.
The two also killed Aberial Bradley in Oakland days later. Both
defendants are scheduled to be sentenced on June 4, 2010. They face a
sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. The
Prosecutor was DDA John Brouhard.
March 11, 2010, an Alameda County jury found defendant Javario Crear
guilty of first degree murder with personal use of a firearm. Crear
shot victim Angelo Lewis on the evening of June 30, 2006 in a parking
lot in front of 1130 62nd Street in North Oakland. Crear
used a .380 semi-automatic firearm to fire three bullets at close range
into Lewis. The twenty-two year-old victim was rushed to the hospital,
but his injuries were too severe and he was pronounced dead just before
midnight. The jury also convicted Crear of being a felon in possession
of a firearm. Sentencing is scheduled for May 14, 2010. Given Crear's
prior criminal history, he faces a potential sentence of over 80 years
to life in state prison. Prosecutor was DDA Tim Wellman
Anderson was found guilty after a jury trial on March 10, 2010, of
robbery with a prior conviction. On July 20, 2007, Anderson robbed the
Bank of the West in Fremont. Fremont Police Department detectives
suspected Anderson, who was on federal parole at the time of the
robbery. Witnesses identified Anderson shortly after the robbery. The
prosecutor was DDA Butch Ford.
March 10, 2010, a jury found Alexander Gee guilty of robbery. On
November 19, 2009, at approximately 6:20 AM the defendant entered the
McDonald's on 98th Avenue and International Blvd. in Oakland. He pulled
out a 9mm replica BB gun and demanded the manager to empty the
register. The manager fled through the back door and the defendant was
caught on surveillance stealing approximately $103.00 from the
register. This is the defendant's third strike. He will be sentenced on
April 23, 2010. The Prosecutor was DDA Venus Johnson.
March 1, a jury convicted Shirley J. Robinson, a counselor and
Department Chair at the College of Alameda, in a real estate fraud and
identity theft scheme perpetrated at the height of the real estate boom
of 2005. Robinson was convicted of 10 felony counts of forgery and
identity theft in a scheme designed to take legal title away from
Robinson's friend of 50 years, Alze Roberts, on a house located in a
residential neighborhood of Oakland. Robinson created a forged power of
attorney in an attempt to sell the property without victim Robert's
knowledge. In addition to forging the name of victim Roberts, Robinson
also stole the identity of three other individuals to make the forged
power of attorney look legitimate. Robinson was remanded into custody
immediately following the verdict. The Prosecutor was DDA David Lim.
On March 25,
2010, James Jackson was found guilty by a jury of two counts of
resisting arrest, Penal Code Section 148. On February 28, 2009 the
defendant seen using unauthorized red discount BART ticket (reserved
for those under-12 or with disabilities). He was stopped by officers,
who found a replica semi-automatic handgun in his sweatshirt pocket.
When the officers attempted to arrest him, the defendant he bent back
the officer's fingers, causing injury, and ran six blocks away from
station. He was stopped by responding BART units. The Prosecutor was
DDA Eric Swalwell.
On March 16,
2010, a jury convicted Michael Bellinger of a misdemeanor, a violation
of Penal Code section 314.1, indecent exposure. On March 13, 2009, he
defendant lived behind St. John Elementary School in San Lorenzo and
would use stuffed animals to attract the attention of the schoolgirls
before exposing himself. This conduct had been going on for several
years until two of the girls reported it to their mothers in March of
2009. After his conviction, the defendant was sentenced to three years
probation and 60 days in County Jail. He is also ordered to move from
his residence and not to reside within 100 yards of a school and is to
stay away from children unless supervised. He must register as a sex
offender and attend a sex offender treatment program. The prosecutor
was DDA Angela Chew.
On March 8,
2010, a jury found Ricardo Lazo of a misdemeanor for the possession of
vandalism tools. On July 9, 2009, Lazo was seen near a vandalized
train-yard storage container in Oakland. Near the defendant police
found a backpack containing aerosol cans and paint supplies. Prosecutor
was DDA Eric Swalwell.
"I lead a watch group in my Alameda County neighborhood. We would like to know more about the DA's Office and crimes specific to our area. Is there a way we can request a representative from your office to meet with us?"
Yes! We welcome the opportunity to address community and neighborhood groups. You can contact the Office at (510) 272-6222.
Do you have a question for the District Attorney's Office?
The District Attorney's Office receives many calls and
e-mails from the public asking a wide variety of questions. Each month, we will print one of these
questions along with the answer. We hope
that many readers will find the information useful.
Please feel free to e-mail a question of your own that you
would like to see answered here.
We hope you found this newsletter informative. Please visit our web site at alcoda.org
for updated news items as well as more detailed information regarding the
District Attorney's Office.
Nancy E. O'Malley
Alameda County District Attorney