FBI Agents Make Arrests In Association With Contra Costa And Concord Corruption
FBI agents arrested a former Contra Costa County drug task force commander and former Concord private investigator Monday on a 17-count federal grand jury indictment alleging the pair engaged in police corruption, extortion, armed robbery and drug sales.
A grand jury in San Francisco handed down the indictment on Aug. 8 against Norman Wielsch, 50, of Antioch, and Christopher Butler, 50, of Concord, according to United States Attorney Melinda Haag's office.
The indictment alleges that Wielsch, who was working as the commander of the state-run Central Contra Costa County Narcotic Enforcement Team, known as CNET, stole methamphetamine and marijuana from county evidence lockers and, working with Butler, a private investigator and former Antioch police officer, sold them back out onto the streets.
The two men are also charged with committing a phony sting operation in which they falsely detained a person, conducted searches without warrants and seized drugs from him while pretending to be conducting a legitimate law enforcement operation.
The indictment also alleges that Butler opened a massage parlor in Pleasant Hill where prostitution was occurring. Butler allegedly required the prostitutes to pay him a weekly fee, which he allegedly shared with Wielsch, in exchange for Wielsch providing them protection from law enforcement.
The pair also allegedly conducted false stings of prostitutes in which they arranged to meet them in local hotels and then, pretending to be acting under legitimate law enforcement authority, stole money and property from them, according to the indictment.
Several of the charges in the indictment carry possible life sentences, according to Haag.
The two men are being held without bail pending detention hearings scheduled for Thursday in San Francisco for Butler and the following Monday in Oakland for Wielsch, according to Haag's office.
The case began in January as a Contra Costa County investigation, but as it continued to expand, District Attorney Mark Peterson made the decision in June to turn it over to federal investigators.
The original case named two more defendants, former Danville police officer Stephen Tanabe and former San Ramon police officer Louis Lombardi.
Suspect Arrested For East Oakland Drive-By Shooting
A suspect in the drive-by shooting death of 3-year-old Carlos Nava in East Oakland last week was arrested two years ago for allegedly choking his ex-girlfriend and threatening to shoot her in the face, according to court records.
However, the Alameda County District Attorney's Office dismissed criminal threat and battery charges against Willie Torrence, 22, of Oakland, for the Oct. 3, 2009, incident last year after he admitted that he had violated his probation for his previous conviction for being a felon in possession of a firearm in a 2007 case.
Torrence's plea agreement on Aug. 9, 2010, called for him to serve 16 months in state prison, but he was released from custody shortly afterward because he had already accumulated nearly 500 days of custody credits.
Oakland Assistant Police Chief Howard Jordan said Monday that Torrence was arrested in Las Vegas shortly after 11 p.m. Friday after being spotted in a car, according to police. He was still on parole for his weapon conviction.
Jordan said police waited until Monday to announce Torrence's arrest because they wanted to gather more information about him and did not want to disclose evidence in the case.
Jordan said police believe Torrence was the driver in the shooting incident in the 6400 block of International Boulevard at about 1:10 p.m. Aug. 8 in which Carlos was killed and two adult males were wounded.
Police said they believe the shooting was gang-related and the two
adult men were the intended targets in the shooting, as Carlos and his family had no connection with them.
The suspected shooter, 26-year-old Oakland resident Lawrence Denard, was arrested in Pittsburg last Tuesday.
On Thursday, Denard was arraigned on one count of murder, two counts of attempted murder and one count of possession of a firearm by a felon. He is scheduled to return to court Aug. 29 to enter a plea.
San Rafael City Council Expected To Request A Review Before Deciding On Proposal For Baseball Team
The San Rafael City Council Monday night was expected to request a review by an independent contractor before moving forward on a proposal that would bring a North American League baseball team to Albert Park, but the discussion was postponed until Sept. 19.
Centerfield Partnership, the East Bay-based group that is pitching the proposal, would pay for the independent review, which is expected to cost between $30,000 and $50,000.
The review would address neighbors' concerns regarding possible negative impacts on the community and would also determine whether a more formal environmental review is necessary, according to partnership spokesman Brian Sobel.
An independent review could take up to four months and delay the partnership's plan to have a team on the field next spring, Sobel said.
Council members said that the decision to postpone Monday night's discussion regarding the independent contractor was at the request of the partnership so that that they could further analyze the situation.
Centerfield Partnership wants to lease the field at Albert Park for two years with an option for a third year.
Dublin resident Brian Clark, CEO of Centerfield Partners LLC, owns the independent North American League's territory rights for the Bay Area.
If the proposal passes, a San Rafael team would join six other teams in the North American League's Western Division and would play 90 games a season, excluding playoffs.
The team would play 45 of those games at Albert Park on Monday through Friday after 6:30 p.m. and on weekends between May and September, Sobel said.
The North American League is an independent professional league that was formed in the fall of 2010 and their play level is considered on par with Major League Baseballs' AA and AAA teams, according to the league's website.
A number of The National American League alumni have gone on to play for MLB teams, including Sergio Romo of the San Francisco Giants and Bobby Cramer of the Oakland Athletics.
San Francisco Mayora Debate Tonight
A San Francisco mayoral debate is being held this evening, the first since Public Defender Jeff Adachi made a surprise last-minute entrance into the race on Friday.
The debate, scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at the University of California at San Francisco's Mission Bay Conference Center, is being organized by the Alliance for Jobs and Sustainable Growth, a coalition of business, labor and community leaders in the city.
Adachi, who announced his candidacy on Friday just before the deadline to file papers passed, joined an already crowded field of mayoral hopefuls, including interim Mayor Ed Lee, who made the controversial decision to run after pledging not to when he was appointed in January.
Lee and nine other candidates are scheduled to attend today's debate, according to Vince Courtney, executive director of the Alliance for Jobs and Sustainable Growth.
The other nine candidates are state Sen. Leland Yee, City Attorney Dennis Herrera, Board of Supervisors President David Chiu, Supervisor John Avalos, Assessor-Recorder Phil Ting, former supervisors Michela Alioto-Pier, Bevan Dufty and Tony Hall, and venture capitalist Joanna Rees.
It was unclear as of Monday afternoon whether Adachi would join the group for today's debate.
Courtney said he did not know whether Adachi was attending, while Adachi said he had not even received an invitation to the debate.
The public defender said Monday afternoon that he was going to spend the first part of the week organizing his campaign, and was planning on making his first debate appearance at a forum on Thursday hosted by the Fillmore Neighborhood Association and the District 5 Democratic Club.
Adachi is backing a pension reform measure on the November ballot that is competing with another pension reform measure put on the ballot by Lee and other city officials, a topic that will likely get increased attention in the upcoming debates.
"He shakes things up quite a bit," Courtney said. "He'll put pension reform right up front, and some of the candidates will have to change their strategies."
San Francisco BART Protests Peaceful
Sharlana Turner, a student and city worker in Berkeley, hoisted a sign that read "You can jail a revolutionary, but you cannot jail the revolution" at a San Francisco BART station Monday evening as demonstrators around her chanted "No justice, no peace -- disband the BART police."
Shortly after 5 p.m. Monday, about 50 protesters gathered at BART's Civic Center station in response to the agency's decision to interrupt cell phone reception last week in order to disrupt a planned protest spurred by the fatal shooting of 45-year-old Charles Hill on July 3 by BART police.
The fatal shooting was followed by a protest on July 11. During that demonstration, protesters "showed a propensity to create chaos on the platform, and that is unacceptable" because it jeopardizes customer and employee safety, BART spokesman Linton Johnson said.
To prevent a similar disruption Thursday, BART temporarily suspended wireless services because "we had knowledge ahead of time about the time, place and manner of how this illegal protest was going to take place, and were forced into a gut-wrenching decision of how we were going to stop it," Johnson said.
The decision to interrupt wireless service has been widely criticized and reported worldwide, and already spurred a data breach by hacker protest group "Anonymous" on the agency's myBART.org website, which is used for marketing and to announce deals near BART stations.
Turner said she did not participate in other protests, but decided to participate Monday because Anonymous organizers said it was going to be peaceful.
Turner said she was there because of the July 3 shooting as well as Thursday's wireless disruption.
"It's everything combined," she said. "You can't separate these things."
While the protest was peaceful, it led to the temporary closures of four downtown BART stations during rush hour, which left some commuters frustrated with the demonstrators.
BART officials closed the Civic Center station at around 5:30 p.m. and the crowd walked down Market Street to the Embarcadero. BART police shut down the Powell Street, Montgomery Street, and Embarcadero stations as the crowd made their way along the train route.
Along the way, demonstrators met with some angry reactions from thwarted commuters who shouted out insults.
One of the protesters clad in a Guy Fawkes mask like the ones featured in the movie "V for Vendetta" said he welcomed their angry responses and that he appreciated that freedom of speech was their constitutional right.
"Good for them," he said when a man called him a nihilist and another made an obscene gesture.
The demonstrators ended their walk at Embarcadero Station, where officers in riot gear lined the street and blocked the station entrance.
Giants Fan Bryan Stow Showing Improvement After Third Round Of Surgery
Bryan Stow, the San Francisco Giants fan severely beaten after a game in Los Angeles in March, is showing significant improvement after undergoing a third round of surgery Wednesday, according to a statement released Monday by San Francisco General Hospital.
"Mr. Stow is awake and breathing on his own," the statement said. "He is following simple commands and beginning to interact with his family. The goal now is to place him in a rehabilitation facility as soon as he no longer requires acute hospital care."
Stow was attacked outside of Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles after the March 31 season opener. He was walking from the game with three friends when two men wearing Dodgers clothing approached him from behind, according to Los Angeles police.
The two suspects first taunted Stow, who was wearing Giants paraphernalia, and then hit him from behind, which caused him to fall to the ground. They kicked Stow while on the ground before fleeing in a car, and Stow was rushed to a local hospital.
Swelling in Stow's brain prompted Los Angels doctors to remove a portion of his skull to relieve pressure on his brain. Doctors from San Francisco General Hospital said the procedure saved Stow's life, but that replacing the missing skull fragment has remained challenging.
Doctors attempted to replace the skull fragment in mid-July, but that caused complications when fluid collected and was trapped underneath the fragment, and doctors were forced to operate within an hour of replacing the bone fragment.
On Wednesday, doctors again replaced the skull fragment with a custom prosthetic bone flap, and this time Stow appears to be tolerating the procedure well, hospital officials said. Doctors continue to closely observe Stow but are optimistic about his recent progress.
Doctors said that while recent developments have been encouraging, they must continue to be vigilant as the complexity of such brain injuries can create many challenging and unexpected problems.
Sanchez and Norwood are next scheduled to appear in court Sept. 30 at 8:30 a.m. for a preliminary hearing.
Petroleum Distributor Found In Violation Of Environmental Laws
A Martinez-based petroleum distributor that was found in violation of numerous environmental laws has been ordered to pay $3 million, a coalition of district attorneys announced Monday.
A Contra Costa County judge ordered Golden Gate Petroleum Corp. to pay $3 million for civil penalties and costs, according to the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office.
A civil enforcement lawsuit was filed in November 2007 alleging that the company used underground storage tank systems to store hazardous materials and hazardous substances such as gasoline and diesel fuel.
Among the violations alleged in the suit were tampering with sensors by improperly raising them, failing to adequately train employees in responding to hazard materials releases or spills, and failing to maintain various records required under state law.
Golden Gate Petroleum will be required to comply with California law at their facilities to reduce the possibility of a release or spill of a hazardous substance into the environment.
In addition to its Martinez headquarters, Golden Gate Petroleum has 25 facilities in Northern California and Nevada, including in the cities of Hayward, San Jose, Richmond, Salinas and Brentwood.
The company sells a number of products including bulk lubricants, diesel, race gas, propane, fuel oil, gasoline, and biodiesel.
The settlement was announced by Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen, along with 14 other California district attorneys and state Attorney General Kamala Harris.
A call to Golden Gate Petroleum seeking comment was not immediately returned.
Teenager Detained But Not Arrested For Shooting
A teenager was detained but has not been arrested for allegedly shooting another teen in the foot in San Francisco's Bayview District on Friday evening, police said Monday.
The shooting was reported at about 6:50 p.m. Friday near the intersection of Ingalls Street and Gilman Avenue.
Officers responded and found blood across a liquor store entryway, but no victim was spotted, according to police.
The store's owner said he heard the door chime and looked up to see the victim sitting in his doorway and saying he had been shot in the foot, police said.
Another person then approached and helped the victim get up, and they both left the area. The 19-year-old victim was later found at San Francisco General Hospital with the gunshot wound to his foot. The injury is not considered life-threatening, according to police.
Officers responding to the scene also saw a suspect leaving the intersection of Ingalls Street and Fitzgerald Avenue. The suspect, who was walking at first, began to run but was quickly detained by officers.
Police also found a sawed-off shotgun in front of a home in the 2900 block of Ingalls Street.
The suspect, also in his late teens, was detained, and a gunshot residue test was performed to determine if he had fired the gun.
The results of the residue test are pending, and the suspect has not been arrested, police spokesman Sgt. Mike Andraychak said Monday.
The shooting is being investigated by the Police Department's gang task force.
Anyone with information about the case is encouraged to call the Police Department's anonymous tip line at (415) 575-4444 or send a tip by text message to TIP411.
Three Men Arrested On Suspicion Of Home Invasion Robbery
Three men arrested on suspicion of committing a home invasion robbery in San Rafael late Friday afternoon are scheduled to be arraigned this morning in Marin County Superior Court.
San Rafael police identified the suspects as Frank Lee Gray, 23, of Oakland, Khiry Jefferson, 21, of San Rafael, and Kenneth Wayne Woodard, 19, of San Rafael.
They were arrested at different locations in San Rafael after a manhunt Friday evening. All are being held in Marin County Jail in lieu of $75,000 bail. A fourth suspect is at large.
Police received a report about a home invasion robbery on Sea Way at 5:30 p.m. The woman caller said several men, including one man armed with a gun, forced their way into her home and then fled in a car, police said.
Two minutes after the call, an officer on Third Street saw a car containing four men matching descriptions of the robbers. The officer looked into the car and saw the passengers ducking down to hide from view. The officer then drove behind the car on Union Street, where the driver abruptly stopped and all four suspects jumped out of the car and ran away, police said.
Two suspects were caught and taken into custody immediately, while a third suspect ran into an apartment complex at 302 Fourth St. Witnesses told police the fourth suspect ran north on Union Street, according to police.
The area was immediately shut down and police officers from throughout Marin County responded to assist in the search for the two remaining suspects.
The third suspect was found hiding under a car in a parking lot at the apartment complex and was taken into custody at 7:50 p.m., police said.
The search for the fourth suspect was called off at 9:30 p.m.
Police described the at-large suspect as a black man, about 20 to 25 years old, who is about 5 feet 8 inches to 5 feet 10 inches tall with extremely short hair that looks almost shaved. He was reported to have been wearing blue jeans and tennis shoes.
Santa Rosa Man Charged With Attempted Murder And Assault
A Santa Rosa man charged with attempted murder and assault in connection with a stabbing at a bus stop and a residential robbery and assault last week pleaded not guilty to drug possession charges Monday afternoon.
Ernest Martinez, 52, pleaded not guilty in Sonoma County Superior Court to possession of methamphetamine and bringing the drug into Sonoma County Jail.
Martinez pleaded not guilty Friday to the attempted stabbing murder of 53-year-old Edward James Sr. at a bus stop at 3180 Santa Rosa Ave. just south of Santa Rosa around 11:50 a.m. on Aug. 8. James was taken to a hospital.
The Sonoma County Sheriff's Office said Martinez got out of a gold Chevrolet Silverado and allegedly stabbed James after an argument. The male driver of the truck is still being sought.
Martinez is charged with attempted murder and assault in that case.
He also pleaded not guilty Friday to allegedly assaulting and robbing another acquaintance, Morris Dumanske, 54, at gunpoint at a residence in the 200 block of Magnolia Avenue in Santa Rosa around 8:30 p.m. on Aug. 8.
Dumanske suffered a head wound and also was hospitalized.
The attempted murder charge, two assault charges, a burglary charge and a robbery charge from both those incidents have been combined into one complaint, but the drug charge is separate.
Martinez's brother, Edward Martinez, 50, also is charged with robbery, burglary, assault with a deadly weapon, and conspiracy in connection with the Magnolia Avenue incident. He pleaded not guilty to the charges Monday afternoon.
Edward Martinez is being held in the county jail on $70,000 bail.
Ernest Martinez is being held in the county jail on $1 million bail. Judge Ken Gnoss noted Ernest Martinez has two prior strike convictions and a prior prison sentence.
Both men face a preliminary hearing on Aug. 25.
Preliminary Results Of Autopsy Of Woman Possibly Mauled By Pit Bulls
Preliminary results from an autopsy performed Friday on a pregnant woman found mauled to death in her Pacifica home show that one of her two pit bulls was likely responsible for killing her, police said Monday.
Darla Napora, 32, was found Thursday afternoon when her husband came home from work and said their 2-year-old male pit bull was hovering over
her badly mauled body, according to police.
Efforts to revive Napora were not successful and paramedics declared her dead at the home.
The dog believed to have been responsible for the attack was shot and killed by police when it escaped from a backyard enclosure and approached emergency responders.
An autopsy conducted by the San Mateo County coroner's office concluded that Napora died from a combination of shock and blood loss from dog bites, police reported Monday.
Preliminary results from a necropsy preformed on the deceased pit bull showed the dog was likely the only animal that took part in the fatal attack. Investigators collected tissue samples, blood evidence and teeth impressions from the suspected dog and the second pet pit bull, a female.
Two forensic odontologists, or bite experts, compared the teeth impressions with bite marks on Napora and concluded that the wounds on her body were consistent with bites from the suspect male dog, according to police.
There was no evidence of any other trauma suffered by Napora that led to her death. Complete and final results from the autopsy and necropsy will not be available for at least two weeks.
The female pit bull remains in custody at the Peninsula Humane Society.
One Killed In Monday Fire At Daly City
One person was killed in a fire Monday afternoon at a Daly City home where firefighters remained on scene for hours mopping up hot spots, according to the North County Fire Authority.
Six fire companies, three chief officers, one fire investigator and an information officer responded to 210 1/2 Los Olivos Ave. in Daly City at about 4:25 p.m. after a report of a structure fire.
Crews found a working fire in a detached rear unit behind the single-family residence. Using hose lines, firefighters extinguished the blaze.
Firefighters located the male victim inside the home during a primary search inside. The man was pronounced dead by firefighter paramedics.
The fire was contained to the rear unit, and no firefighters or other residents were injured by the fire.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation.
The San Mateo County coroner's office had not yet released the victim's name, as it was pending notification of the man's family.
San Francisco Bay Area Weather Forecast
Mostly cloudy skies are expected in the Bay Area today becoming partly cloudy after fog in the morning. Highs in the upper 50s to mid 60s are anticipated.
Clear skies are likely this evening, before becoming mostly cloudy with patchy fog expected after midnight. Lows in the mid 50s are expected.
Forecasters predict a mostly cloudy Wednesday morning before becoming mostly sunny after patchy fog clears in the morning. Highs in the 50s to upper 60s are anticipated.
Sign up for our weekly newsletter and join the conversation on Facebook.
Check out some of our newest Blogs:
Universal Internet Access for All San Franciscans
Why is San Francisco So Dirty?
SFPark – The iPhone App for Smart Parking in San Francisco
Food Truck Rodeo Review – Off the Grid