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From the Office of the Alameda County District Attorney
Nancy E. O'Malley, District Attorney
October 2010

In This Issue
Combating Foreclosure Fraud
DA Meets with Gov't Officials on Foreclosures
Community Workshop
Target Ordered to Stop Illegal Dumping
Reaching out to the Afghan Community
CWL Celebrates 36 Years
Consumer Alert
From the Courtroom
Quick Links
Point of View
Criminal Docket Finder
Inmate Locator

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DA's Office Combats Real Estate Foreclosure Fraud
Protect Yourself from Real Estate Fraud!

The Alameda County District Attorney's Office has created a brochure with valuable tips and resources for homeowners.

Download this brochure for additional information.
 What's New
DA's Office Meets with HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan & Congresswoman Barbara Lee to Discuss Foreclosure Crisis and Consumer Protection
On September 27, 2010, representatives of the Alameda County District Attorney's Office real estate fraud division met with Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Shaun Donovan and Congresswoman Barbara Lee in Oakland to discuss the current foreclosure crisis and ways to better protect consumers from unscrupulous lenders and con artists.

Secretary Donovan and Congresswoman Lee met with a small group of housing rights advocates from across California in preparation for a larger foreclosure workshop which took place later in the day.  Of the group of approximately 15 housing rights advocates that met for one hour with Secretary Donovan and Congresswoman Lee, the Alameda County District Attorney's Office was the only law enforcement agency in attendance.  

The Alameda County District Attorney's Office reaffirmed its commitment to protecting local residents and communities from the fraud and blighted conditions caused by the foreclosure crisis.  The Office also pledged to continue working closely with HUD to strengthen laws that would allow local prosecutors to go after individuals and companies that defraud homeowners.

"The Alameda County District Attorney's Office, through our real estate fraud division and consumer protection division, enforces both criminal and civil cases against companies and individuals who prey on our local neighbors through fraudulent acts as well as deceptive business practices," stated District Attorney Nancy O'Malley.  "This meeting was productive in sharing ideas with Secretary Donovan and Congresswoman Lee that will allow us to help the federal government create more effective tools to fight real estate fraud."
DA Hosts Community Workshop
On September 9, 2010, the Alameda County District Attorney's Office, and the Department of Housing and Urban fcDevelopment (HUD) offered a free community workshop designed to help local homeowners avoid foreclosure rescue scams.  The District Attorney's office  discussed the latest scams currently being perpetrated by con artists, and offered practical tips on how to avoid becoming a victim of foreclosure rescue fraud.  

"We are proud to partner with HUD to provide this valuable service to help homeowners avoid foreclosure rescue scams during these difficult economic times," stated District Attorney Nancy O'Malley.  O'Malley added, "California unfortunately ranks among the top three states facing foreclosures in 2010, and our office is committed to being proactive in helping homeowners avoid becoming the victims of real estate con artists."
Judge Orders California Target Stores to Stop Illegally Dumping Hazardous Waste
On September 24, 2010, the Alameda County District Attorney's Office prevailed in a civil lawsuit filed in Alameda County jointly with 19 other California District Attorneys, the state Attorney General and the City Attorneys for the Cities of Los Angeles and San Diego. Alameda County Superior Court Judge Steven Brick  ordered Minnesota-based Target Corporation to stop routinely and systematically dumping hazardous wastes into the environment.

The civil lawsuit filed by prosecutors last year in Alameda County alleges that more than 240 Target stores throughout the state improperly disposed of various hazardous wastes and materials over a five-period. The illegally disposed materials included bleach, pesticides, oven cleaners, paint, aerosols and other toxic, flammable and corrosive materials.  All nine Target stores in Alameda County are alleged to be involved in the hazardous waste violations.

The Judge issued a preliminary injunction prohibiting Target and its employees from illegally disposing of hazardous waste, using unregistered haulers to transport hazardous waste, transporting hazardous waste without the required manifests, and illegally managing and disposing of universal waste such as batteries, telephones, and computer and electronic equipment.  In ruling on the prosecutors' request for a Preliminary Injunction against Target, the court stated, "The People have shown a high likelihood of prevailing on their claim that Hazardous Waste was disposed of."

California law requires companies to store, handle, and dispose of hazardous wastes and materials in specified ways to avoid contamination of the environment.  Prosecutors contend that Target routinely ignored those laws to cut costs.  The suit alleges, that employees disposed of defective, damaged, and leaking chemical products directly into the trash.  Rather than being sent to authorized disposal sites, prosecutors allege that tons of hazardous wastes and contaminated materials were crushed along with discarded merchandise and garbage in Target's store compactors, and sent to area landfills.  

"We are pleased with Judge Brick's ruling," said Alameda County DA O'Malley, "Target's unlawful actions have put the health of Alameda County residents at risk.  The violation of our State's environmental protection laws will not be tolerated."

The investigation began in 2005 with the help of the Alameda County District Attorney's Office, the California Department of Toxic Substances Control and numerous other environmental health agencies statewide.
  DA's Office Reaches Out to Alameda County Afghan Community
nahidOn September 18, 2010, the Afghan community of Alameda County celebrated EID, a three-day Muslim holiday that marks the end of Ramadan, at Swiss Park in Newark.  The event included authentic food, live entertainment, and a variety of merchandise such as Afghan tribal clothing. Members of the Afghan Community Outreach Program, newly formed by the District Attorney's Office, were also on hand at a booth set up to facilitate direct communication between the Afghan community of Alameda County and the DA's office.  Nahid Aria was named the Afghan Community Outreach Coordinator in March 2010 by the Alameda County District Attorney, Nancy E. O' Malley. 

 During the event, Ms. Aria spoke with many members of the Afghan community and handed out brochures and flyers covering topics from domestic violence to human trafficking, all of which had been translated into Farsi.  The outreach effort aims to create better awareness of the laws as well as the programs established to assist victims and witnesses of crime.

Alameda County Family Justice Center's Victim Services Brochure is now available in Farsi.
  California Women Lawyers Celebrate 36 Years of Achievement
cj and nan
CWL President Nancy O'Malley thanks retiring Chief Justice Ron George for his support of the CWL.
On September 23rd, 2010, the California Women
Nancy O'Malley (right) congratulates incoming Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye (left) on her achievement.
Lawyers (CWL) celebrated their 36th anniversary with a dinner in Monterey, California. District Attorney Nancy E. O'Malley, the 2009-2010 president of CWL, was proud to congratulate the guests of honor, retiring Chief Justice Ron George and incoming Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye.
Consumer Alert
DA's Office Prosecuting Fremont Firm in Foreclosure Scam Case

On October 4, 2010, Alameda County District Attorney Nancy E. O'Malley and California Attorney General Edmund G. Brown, Jr. announced that their offices jointly charged a Fremont woman and a Los Gatos man with multiple felonies stemming from a foreclosure fraud scam.  Angeline Lisa Lizarrago, 68, of the Avemos Financial Group in Fremont faces 23 felony counts and real estate agent Michael Douglas Young, 67, faces 20 felony counts alleging fraud and theft against financially distressed homeowners from throughout Northern California. 

billFrom June 2008 to October 2009 Lizarrago and Young targeted Spanish-speaking homeowners as well as Southeast Asian immigrants, all desperate to save their homes.  Lizarrago, the owner of Avemos Financial Group and Young, Avemos's general manager, promised clients they would take steps to stop banks from immediately foreclosing on homes and to renegotiate clients' loans to reflect the homes' current market values. Clients paid $1,500 and more for just walking through the door and filing out information forms. Lizarrago and Young guaranteed to refund the fees if they were unsuccessful securing a loan. Most of Avemos's clients, who did not have the income to avert foreclosure through a loan modification, lost their homes in the foreclosure process and never received a refund from Avemos.

"The Alameda County DA's Office will remain highly vigilant in our effort to identify and prosecute people who prey upon distressed homeowners in these difficult economic times," states District Attorney Nancy E. O'Malley.  "We applaud the joint investigative efforts of the California Department of Real Estate, the Fremont Police Department, the California Attorney General and the Alameda County District Attorney's Office."

The current charges against Lizarrago and Young are based on 11 cases of fraud and theft totaling more than $50,000 but prosecutors believe there are more than 50 victims. The investigation into further criminal actions by Lizarrago and Young is ongoing.  Anyone with information concerning the actions of the Avemos Group or the defendants can call the Alameda County District Attorney's Office at 1-877-288-2882

 From the Courtroom
September 2010

Felony Verdicts
  • On September 30, 2010, a jury found Francisco Zamora and Julio Montano guilty of first degree murder based upon the August 21, 2009, killing of 14 year old Ricardo Cortez, Jr. Defendant Julio Montano, a member of the South Side Locos gang, shot and killed Ricardo in a case of mistaken identity. Defendant Zamora, an original founding member of the gang, acted as the driver. The killing was in retaliation for a shooting that took place on August 18, 2009, at the Rainbow Recreation Center in Oakland, in which three members of the gang were shot by members of the Border Brothers gang. Juan Carlos Betencourt was killed as a result of this incident. Ricardo was shot because he was mistaken for a Border Brother while he and his friends were playing tag. The victim stopped to tie his shoe when Montano approach with a silver revolver. Ricardo asked Defendant Montano, "Why, why me?" and Montano then shot Ricardo Cortez four times in front of his playmates. Montano ran away and was picked up by Francisco Zamora who drove the two men away from the scene. The Prosecutor was DDA Casey Bates.

  • On September 10, 2010, a jury convicted Dimario Pickford of first degree murder in the shooting death of 22 year old Oakland resident Desmond Thomas. On October 18, 2008, Mr. Thomas was shot four times while exiting his car in the 2200 block of Seminary Avenue. An acquaintance of Mr. Pickford's came forward and identified Pickford as the person she saw firing a gun as she sat in her parked car. A childhood friend of Mr. Pickford's testified to an ongoing feud between the victim and Pickford and described how Pickford admitted responsibility for the shooting to him. At the time of his arrest on October 30, 2008, Pickford was wearing a bullet proof vest. A search warrant following his arrest led to the recovery of a fully loaded assault pistol. The jury also convicted Pickford of illegal possession of an assault weapon. It was determined by ballistics analysis, however, that the assault pistol was not the weapon used to kill Mr. Thomas. Sentencing is scheduled for November 5, 2010. Pickford faces a minimum term of 50 years to life in prison. The Alameda County District Attorney's Office would like to acknowledge the assistance of the Jefferson Parish (Louisiana) District Attorney's Office in securing the presence of an uncooperative out of state witness. The Prosecutor was SDDA Jim Meehan.
  • On August 25, 2010, a jury found Marcel Perry guilty of murder, and of shooting into an inhabited vehicle, and found true the use of a firearm clause as well as the allegations that he committed the crimes in furtherance of a criminal street gang. On November 20, 2008, the defendant shot and killed 16-year-old Vincent Scott while he was driving in West Oakland at 5:00 in the afternoon. The murder was the result of a feud between rival gangs. Perry was also convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm stemming from a separate incident on January 6, 2009. The defendant is facing the possibility of a sentence of 50 years to life in prison. The prosecutor was DDA Patrick Moriarity.
  • On September 1, 2010, a jury convicted Quiana Mason of possession for sale and transportation of rock cocaine. On October 28, 2008, a San Leandro Police Officer stopped Defendant Mason for a traffic violation. Mason was driving on a suspended driver's license. A subsequent search revealed 22 twists of rock cocaine in her waistband, 3 baggies of packaged marijuana in her bra, $2,350 of cash in her purse, four cell phones in her purse, and 34 empty marijuana baggies in her purse. The Prosecutor was DDA Eric Swalwell.

Misdemeanor Verdicts

  • On September 23, a jury found defendant David Pomeroy guilty of child abuse (Penal Code Section 273a(1)). The defendant was seen striking his two year old child on the chest during commute hours on BART on August 16, 2010. When two passengers confronted the defendant about hitting his child, the defendant replied that he could do whatever he wants with his daughter and struck her again. The two passengers followed the defendant off the BART train and detained the defendant until police arrived. The Prosecutor was DDA Neil Layton.
  • On September 13, 2010, a jury found Brian Wheeler guilty of inflicting corporal injury upon his wife of 3 months resulting in traumatic condition. The Defendant and victim were husband and wife who were renting a room at a motel in Oakland. On May 20, 2010, the defendant and his wife got into an argument about their finances. The defendant grabbed the victim by the throat and began strangling her. The victim fought him off until he finally let go. He continued his attack by kicking her in the face, pinning her down on the bed and throwing her head first into the wall. The victim finally made it out of the motel room and ran to her brother's residence where she called the police. The victim suffered numerous bruises to her face and arms. The Prosecutor was DDA Luis Marin.
  • On September 8, 2010, a jury found James Tracy guilty of inflicting corporal injury upon his wife of 35 years. The Defendant and victim were husband and wife who had recently separated. On March 8, 2009, Tracy returned home and became angry that his wife had placed a chair against the front door of their apartment to keep him out. He pushed his way through the front door and punched her multiple times in the face and body, and then pulled her by her hair to their bedroom where he continued to punch and kick her. Their daughter witnessed the assault and was able to pull the Defendant off the victim. The Prosecutor was DDA Timothy Burr, Jr.
 Q & A
  Q: "I am worried about keeping up with my home mortgage payments.  I don't want my home to go into foreclosure, but I am not sure who I can trust to help me out. Any advice?"
A: Please take a look at our helpful brochure that gives advice on this issue and also has links to official web sites that can answer many of your questions. 
  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 our 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.

 Until Next Issue...
We hope you found this newsletter informative.  Please visit our web site at for updated news items as well as more detailed information regarding the District Attorney's Office. 
Nancy E. O'Malley
Alameda County District Attorney