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April/May 2011       

From the Office of the Alameda County District Attorney

Nancy E. O'Malley, District Attorney

District Attorney's 2010 Annual Report  

Distar2010rict Attorney Nancy O'Malley and the Alameda County DA's Office are proud to announce the publication 2010 Annual Report.   


We invite you to view this comprehensive report.

   Annual Report 2010 (7MB PDF)

DDA named 'Prosecutor of the Year'
Deputy District Attorney Joni Leventis wins coveted award
2011 Prosecutor of the Year

2011 Prosecutor of the Year, DDA Joni Leventis

Selected over steep competition from around the state, CDAA awarded Ms. Leventis with this great honor due to her outstanding work in trial courts, her dedication to crime victims and her unwavering efforts to ensure that justice is served.

Ms. Leventis has tried 32 felonies, involving 37 defendants, to verdict; since mid-2007, she has tried to verdict 13 murder cases with all but one resulting in convictions.


 The 'Prosecutor of the Year' award will be presented to DDA Leventis at the CDAA Summer Conference, to be held June 20-24 in San Diego. We are proud of her achievement and honored to work alongside her.   

Cherri Allison: New Executive Director of Alameda County Family Justice Center

In April, Cherri N. Allison, Esq., took the reins of the Alameda County Family Justice Center (ACFJC) as the Center's new Executive Director/Legal Advisor. She succeeds previous Executive Director Nadia Lockyer,

Cherri Allison
New Executive Director of the ACFJC, Cherri Allison

who left the Center following her election to the Alameda County Board of Supervisors.    


Ms. Allison is one of the founders of the Alameda County Family Justice Center, and was formerly the Executive Director of the Family Violence Law Center (FVLC), an organization that provides civil legal and advocate services to Alameda County victims of domestic violence. She is a statewide and nationally recognized leader in the field of domestic violence. Her expertise includes legal services to victims of domestic and interpersonal violence, including elder abuse, human trafficking and sexual assault.


A licensed attorney, Ms. Allison earned her Doctorate in Law (JD) from Santa Clara University, School of Law, after receiving her Bachelors of Art (BA) in Mass Communication from UC Berkeley.She also has a California Community College Teaching Credential and other training certificates, and holds additional degrees in Business Management and Accounting. Ms. Allison is a recent graduate Fellow of the Women's Policy Institute - Women's Foundation of California, and is a LeaderSpring Fellow. 


In addition to being a member of several national, statewide and local Organizations, Ms. Allison serves on the American Bar Association Commission on Domestic Violence, the California Domestic Violence Advisory Committee, the California Women Lawyers--Board of Governors, the Fundraising Academy for Communities of Color and the State Bar of California--Ethnic Minorities Relations Committee. Ms. Allison is a published legal writer on issues involving domestic violence and interpersonal violence.       

DA O'Malley Interviewed by WomensRadio
In April, DA Nancy O'Malley and Pat Lynch, host of 'Speak Up!' on WomensRadio, discussed the Alameda County DA's innovative and comprehensive H.E.A.T. (Human Exploitation and Trafficking)
Watch program.

Listen to the interview here.

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Consumer Alert:
Insurance Agent Sentenced to Prison for Ponzi Scheme


On April 22, 2011, Victor L. Weber, a licensed insurance agent from Clayton, CA, was sentenced to state prison for 3 years, 8 months and ordered to pay victim restitution in the amount of $800,000 following a prosecution for his involvement in a sophisticated Ponzi Scheme.  


Weber operated a highly organized Ponzi scheme designed to fraudulently solicit investment funds and defraud unsuspecting investors.  A Ponzi scheme is generally defined as when a promoter convinces people to invest money with him for a particular purpose by promising them an unusually large rate of return. The money is never actually used for the advertised investment but is instead converted by the promoter to his own uses.  


Between December 2006 and March 2009, Weber solicited six victims into investing $800,000.00 for the payment of life insurance premiums for unnamed third parties. These investment vehicles are referred to as a STOLI (Stranger Owned Life Insurance), in which an investor purchases life insurance from a policyholder who no longer needs the death benefit (for example, when a parent outlives their children).  Victor Weber informed his victims that he was going to use their investment money to finance STOLI type investments, but used the investor's moneys to pay for his personal and business expenses and to purchase personal property instead. None of the money was ever used for the purchase of life insurance.

This case was a successful joint investigation conducted by the Alameda County District Attorney's Office, the California Department of Insurance, and the California Department of Corporations. 


District Attorney Nancy E. O'Malley states, "The Alameda County DA's Office is committed to protecting our citizens from fraudulent and illegal schemes such as this. We will continue to work with our state-wide partners to investigate these crimes, prosecute the perpetrators, and seek restitution for the victims."


California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones also comments, "This former agent used his license and position of trust to steal large sums of money from his victims apparently for his own personal gain.  This sentence should stand as a warning to those who think that they can steal from consumers."


If you feel you've been a victim of this type of fraud, or know someone who has, please contact Senior Deputy District Attorney Scott Patton on (510) 569-9281.  
A Win for the Environment in Alameda County

Target Corp. to pay $22.5 Million for Environmental Violations

target garbage
Alameda County DA's Office: Taking a stand to combat negative environmental impacts

On March 3, 2011 District Attorney O'Malley, together with 19 other California District Attorneys, the California Attorney General and the City Attorneys in San Diego and Los Angeles, announced that a judge in Alameda County Superior court ordered the Minnesota-based Target Corporation to pay $22.5 million as part of a settlement of a civil environmental prosecution.


The judgment is the culmination of a civil enforcement lawsuit filed in Alameda County in June 2009 claiming that more than 240 Target stores throughout the state unlawfully handled and disposed of various hazardous wastes and materials over a seven-year period. Such materials included pesticides, oven cleaners, pool chemicals, drain openers, paint, aerosols, electronics, pharmaceuticals, batteries and other flammable, toxic and corrosive wastes.  All nine Target stores in Alameda County allegedly participated in the illegal conduct.


Under the settlement, which includes a final judgment and permanent injunction against Target, the corporation must pay $22.5 million in civil penalties, costs and for supplemental environmental projects furthering consumer protection and environmental enforcement in the state.  As a result of the prosecution, California Target stores have also adopted new policies and procedures designed to eliminate the disposal of waste hazardous products into store trash compactors and drains.

Bring Your Kids to Work Day 2011
bring Your Kids to Work Day 2011
Bring Your Kids to Work Day 2011

On April 28, children participating in the 2011 Bring Your Kids to Work Day program enjoyed an action-packed day at the Rene C. Davidson Courthouse.  


They learned what their parents and relatives do every day at the DA's Office by observing and serving as jurors in a mock trial, watching a forensic video demonstration, being finger-printed by inpsectors, meeting with the Board of Supervisors and learning about the criminal justice system.  

bring Your Kids to Work Day 2011 court
Young jurors participating in the mock trial



"My favorite part of the day was when I got to be a juror, and we listened to the people argue the case in front of us. We heard both sides of the story. It was fun!" -- Claire, 8.

From the Courtroom

Felony Verdicts - April 2011

On April 26, 2011, a jury found defendant Cesar Ricardo Chavez guity of hit-and-run with injury, driving while unlicensed and resisting arrest. On October 4, 2009, the unlicensed defendant drove his car through the parking lot of the Walmart at Hesperian and Lewelling in San Leandro. He struck the victim, who was walking through the parking lot, and the victim fell onto the hood. The defendant then sped up and hit the brakes, ejecting the victim off the hood. The defendant then immediately backed up and left the parking lot without getting out, stopping, or doing anything to help the man he hit. A witness who saw the incident called 911, and followed the defendant to another Walmart. The witness gave a description of the defendant to the responding officers, and when the defendant exited the store, he was eventually detained. The prosecutor was DDA Matthew Gaidos.

On April 14, 2011, a jury convicted defendant Eric Lee of carjacking and possession of a firearm by a felon. On March 18, 2010, Timothy Jones and his brother were parked at a car shop at the corner of 101st Ave. and International Blvd. in Oakland. The defendant and three other men approached the brothers, brandished guns and demanded that they get out of the car. The defendant pressed his gun against Timothy Jones' stomach and repeated the demand, at which time Timothy got out of the driver's seat, and his brother the passenger seat. The defendant then drove away in the car, while the three armed men fled the scene on foot. The brothers flagged down OPD Officers, who saw the stolen car and gave chase. A car chase and a foot chase ensued, and the defendant was eventually found hiding in a back yard of a house. The prosecutor was DDA Rebecca Warren.

On April 5, 2011, a jury convicted defendant Omar Gonzalez of first degree murder with personal and intentional use of a firearm for killing Rene Castillo on June 23, 2001. Gonzalez was also convicted of attempted murder and two counts of assault with a firearm related to his violence against two other victims. Shortly before 3 a.m. on June 23, 2001, Gonzalez, Castillo, and others were attending a party hosted by Gonzalez at a metal shop in East Oakland. Castillo confronted Gonzalez after Gonzalez started playing a gang-related music CD. Gonzalez and Castillo were separated before the confrontation turned violent. Castillo left the shop and was getting ready to go home. Gonzalez obtained a bolt-action rifle and pursued Castillo. Other people attending the party pleaded with Gonzalez to put the rifle down, but Gonzalez ignored their requests. He attempted to shoot one person who stood in his way. Gonzalez then chased Castillo around a van and fired several shots at Castillo. Castillo was shot in the back. This shot tore through Castillo's lung and exited his chest. Castillo was also shot in the ankle. Bullet fragments injured other people nearby. Castillo died soon thereafter. Gonzalez fled Oakland immediately after his crimes. He was arrested in Houston, Texas in September 2008. Gonzalez faces a minimum sentence of 50 years to life in prison when he is sentenced, which is scheduled for May 3, 2011. The prosecutor was DDA Tim Wellman.

Felony Verdicts - March 2011


On March 25, 2011 a jury reached a verdict on a Sexually Violent Predator Case. The jury found that the petition alleging that the respondent, Atoa Atualevao, was a Sexually Violent Predator (SVP) was true. The respondent had four prior convictions for sexually violent offenses. In 1979 he was convicted for raping two women in Los Angeles County. These offenses were committed less than a month apart. In both events the respondent remained in a bar until closing time. When he was the only patron left with the sole female employee he raped those women. The respondent was convicted for raping and sexually assaulting two women in Alameda County in 1988. The first offense occurred in 1986. The respondent was working at an after-hours club in Hayward. He raped and sexually assaulted the last patron who was there at closing time. The second Alameda County offense occurred in 1987. The respondent raped and sexually assaulted a woman he had met in a bar the week before. They were on a date that ended with them checking into a motel in Alameda where the respondent raped and sexually assaulted her. In 2002 the respondent was approaching his parole date on a prison sentence he received for a robbery and carjacking he committed in Alameda County in 1994. He was screened as a potential SVP by prison officials due to his previous convictions for sexually violent offenses. He was then evaluated by psychologists assigned by the Department of Mental Health which led to a request to file a SVP petition in Alameda County. In rendering their opinion that the petition was true, the jury concluded that the respondent had the required convictions for sexually violent offenses. Additionally, they found the respondent had a mental disorder that predisposed him to commit sexually violent offenses. Finally, they were convinced that it was likely the respondent would re-offend by committing sexually violent offenses in the future. As a result of this verdict the respondent was committed to Coalinga State Hospital for an indeterminate term for treatment. The Prosecutor was DDA David Cook.


On March 28, 2011 a jury convicted defendant Ernest Scherer III of two counts of first degree murder and found true the allegation that he used a deadly weapon during the commission of the crimes. The jury also found to be true the special circumstances of murder for financial gain and murder of multiple victims. Scherer killed his mother, Charlene Abendroth, and father, Ernest Scherer Jr., in their Castlewood County Club, Pleasanton, home on March 7, 2008.The Defendant will be sentenced on May 20, 2011. The Prosecutor was DDA Mike Nieto.


On March 28, 2011, a jury convicted Defendant Marche Harrison of residential burglary, robbery with the use of a firearm, rape in concert, forcible oral copulation, and being a felon in possession of a firearm. The convictions stem form a series of crimes committed by the defendant and an unidentified accomplice on December 28, 2004. On that date, Defendant Harrison and a second man, posing as delivery men, gained entrance to a Union City residence at 10:30 a.m. Once inside, Harrison robbed the residents, a 42-year-old woman and her daughters, ages 22 and 16, with a handgun. While the men ransacked the house, the women were forced to undress and the daughters were bound with duct tape. The mother testified that after taking cash and jewelry the defendant forcibly raped her, using a plastic bag over his penis because no condom was available. She testified further that the second man also forced her to orally copulate him. Police investigators later recovered a plastic bag containing semen. After the defendant's arrest on December 31, 2008 confirmatory DNA typing was done, identifying Defendant Harrison. The defendant was also identified at a photo line-up and through fingerprints recovered at the home. A court trial to determine the defendant's prior convictions will take place on April 7, 2011. The defendant will be sentenced at a date after that hearing. The Prosecutor is Senior DDA Tom Burke.


On March 24, 2011, a jury convicted defendant Rennie Pratt of voluntary manslaughter and found true the allegation that the defendant personally used a firearm in the commission of the crime. On April 10, 2009, the defendant, Rennie Pratt, age 28, shot and killed her boyfriend, Michael Porcella, age 36. Porcella and Pratt attended an Oakland A's game earlier in the evening, and had gotten into an argument. The two went their separate ways after the game. Pratt shot Porcella with a .45 handgun that Porcella legally owned, as Porcella entered his home on Laguna Avenue in the city of Oakland. The two lived together for approximately six months, but Pratt had moved out of the home a few days before killing Porcella. Porcella was an attorney in Oakland, and had practiced criminal law for the Beles law firm in Oakland. The defendant will be sentenced on June 24, and faces a sentence of up to 21 years in prison. The Prosecutor was DDA Jill Nerone.


On March 21, 2011, a jury convicted co-defendants Nicholas Flatbush of robbery and Blake Mastro of attempted murder and robbery. The jury also found true that Mastro personally used a knife and inflicted great bodily injury during the commission of the crimes. In the summer of 2006, 19-year old victim Hamed Mirabdal met Blake Mastro, at a poker party in Albany, Ca. and offered to sell him a large number of guns for $1,500. The victim agreed, and after a few months time, a meeting place was set. Unbeknownst to the victim, Mastro never intended to sell any guns. Rather, he planned to rob Mirabdal. To assist him with the robbery, Mastro recruited his friend, defendant Flatbush. They created a plan in which Flatbush would hold the victim while Mastro punched and took the money. The two lured the victim up to Poppy Lane in the Berkeley hills. As Flatbush held the Mirabdal, Mastro stabbed the him multiple times. Both defendants fled, leaving the victim with 25 to 30 stab wounds, including to the heart and carotid artery. The victim survived, but fell into a coma. Ten days later, Flatbush confessed and implicated Mastro. After more than a month, Mirabdal awoke from the coma and also identified Mastro. Today, the victim is paralyzed on the left side of his body and requires a wheelchair to get around. The prosecutor was DDA Eric Swalwell.


On March 1, 2011, a jury convicted Kentwan Hawkins of 1st degree murder. On October 13, 2008, defendant Kentwan Hawkins followed Joshua Ligons to the Hayward Bart Station after the two of them got into an argument. When the defendant confronted Joshua, Joshua believed they were going to fight. The defendant pulled out a revolver and shot Joshua in the chest. The defendant then ran to a friend's house and hid the murder weapon. After a very efficient and thorough investigation by the Bart Police Department, the defendant was arrested on October 19, 2008. While in custody, the defendant called his friend to discuss hiding "that thing." Pursuant to a search warrant, the Bart Police located the murder weapon. Mr. Hawkins will be sentenced on April 22, 2011. The prosecutor was DDA Amilcar Ford.

We are proud and honored to serve the people of Alameda County.  



Nancy E. O'Malley

Alameda County District Attorney

In This Issue
District Attorney's 2010 Annual Report
DDA named 'Prosecutor of the Year'
Cherri Allison: New Executive Director of Family Justice Center
WomensRadio Podcast on Human Trafficking
Consumer Alert
Target Corp. to pay $22.5 Million
Bring Your Kids to Work Day 2011
From the Courtroom

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The Alameda County DA's Office is dedicated to serving our community through the ethical prosecution of criminal offenses and the vigorous protection of victims' rights.

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