As the Concord City Council nears its decision to select either Catellus Development or Lennar-Urban to win the coveted master developer contract for the Concord Naval Weapons Depot Station project, one of the contestants has cried foul.

On August 21,  attorneys for Catellus filed a complaint with Concord City Attorney Mark Koon, which accuses its competitor Lennar, of trying to influence the contract decision by funneling campaign contributions to Concord Mayor Tim Grayson’s campaign for State Assembly in 2016.



district attorney

In an investigation going back to 2001, the San Ramon Police Department, in a joint operation with the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office, and the F.B.I. Safe Streets Task Force, arrested three suspects in a large scale human trafficking operation, according to the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office.

The following is from the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office:

Suspect James Joseph Jr. and his common law wife Avisa Lavassani led a sex trafficking ring for the last 14 years, which had been centered in San Ramon and Danville.

Both Joseph and Lavassani are currently in custody awaiting arraignment on Human Trafficking and Conspiracy to Commit Human Trafficking charges.  Suspect Anthony Reynolds, who assisted Joseph and Lavassani in their trafficking operations, also awaits arraignment in custody.

Acting on information obtained through prior victims of James Joseph Jr. and Avisa Lavassani, the San Ramon Police Department began an investigation into the current activities of the two trafficking ring heads.  Utilizing a months-long wire-tap as well as field surveillance, the San Ramon Police Department, Investigators with the F.B.I. Safe Streets Task Force and District Attorney Investigators uncovered a

wide-ranging human trafficking operation that stretched from California to Cleveland, to Miami, and to New York.  The operation was netting Joseph Jr. and Lavassani tens of thousands of dollars a week utilizing multiple trafficking victims at one time.

Chief Joe Gorton of the San Ramon Police Department stated: “This investigation has shown us that human trafficking does not stay within jurisdictional lines and it doesn’t just happen in big cities or at ports and truck stops.  Human trafficking can occur anywhere and it can be hidden in plain sight.”

Contra Costa County District Attorney Mark Peterson declared: “We are committed to investigate and prosecute human traffickers in Contra Costa County.  There is no room in our society for treating human beings as slaves and property that can be bought and sold.  The San Ramon Police Department and the F.B.I. Safe Streets Task Force did an outstanding job in working this complex and highly involved case.”

The FBI Contra Costa County Safe Streets Task Force consists of police officers and investigators from the F.B.I., Antioch Police Department, Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Department, Richmond Police Department, Contra Costa


An overturned vehicle is blocking the road on eastbound Treat Blvd., near Citrus Dr. in Concord.

No life-threatening injuries were reported, and the cause of the two vehicle collision is under investigation.

Drive safely, watch out for vehicles around you, and slow down.

Thanks to Phil, and thanks to Sarah Moss for the photos from the scene of the crash.


Thanks to “Friend of Claycord”, who sent these photos of the 1962 flood in Concord.

The photos were taken in the area of Park-N-Shop on Willow Pass Road and also on Market Street. You can click on each picture for a much larger view.

Anybody out there remember the flood in 1962?

ABOUT THE CLAYCORD ONLINE MUSEUM: The Claycord Online Museum is made up of historical photos, documents & anything else that has to do with the history of our area.

If you have any old photos or items that you’d like to place in the Claycord Online Museum, just scan or take a photo of them, and send them to the following address: It doesn’t matter what it is, even if it’s just an old photo of your house, a scan of an old advertisement or an artifact that you’d like us to see, send it in and we’ll put it online!

Click on the tag below titled “Claycord Online Museum” to view other items!



A vegetation fire is burning at the Walnut Creek Police Department’s shooting range at 3820 Valley Vista Rd.

Cal Fire and ConFire are both responding to the scene.

UPDATE, 1:56pm: ConFire reports “several acres” have burned so far.

UPDATE, 2:04pm: This is across from Boundry Oak Country Club (golf course).

UPDATE, 2:12pm: The fire’s growth has been stopped.

Thanks to Stephen for the photo.

UPDATE, 3:24pm: The fire is 10%contained.


The “Water Cooler” is a feature on where we ask you a question or provide a topic, and you talk about it.

The “Water Cooler” will be up Monday-Friday at noon.

Where’s your favorite place to get pizza in Claycord?

Talk about it….



A vegetation fire burned about five acres near Alhambra Way in Martinez on Monday night.

The blaze, which started around 10pm, didn’t threaten any structures, and no injuries were reported.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

photo credit: John Halton 


An executive of a Concord real estate company pleaded guilty to a $200 million mortgage fraud scheme that took place during the height of the housing crisis, according to an unsealed plea agreement.

Ayman Shahid, 39, of Danville, was the president of Discovery Sales Inc., a company Albert Seeno III created to market homes built by other companies that he had founded, including Discovery Builders, Inc. and the Albert D. Seeno Construction Co., Inc., among others.

In the plea agreement, Shahid confessed to being part of a scheme that caused banks to approve mortgage loans for unqualified buyers on the basis of false and misleading applications for homes with inflated prices.

Between 2006 and 2008, over 325 homes were built under the scheme, amounting to sales in excess of $200 million, prosecutors said.

Foreclosures and short sales from the homes amounted to approximately $75 million in losses, according to prosecutors. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which purchased mortgage loans used to pay for the homes, lost roughly $3.5 million.

U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag said in a statement that Shahid and his coconspirators were responsible for saddling the banking system with dozens of fraudulent mortgage loans without regard for the damage those loans would cause to individual home buyers, investors and the economy as a whole.

“Shahid fraudulently inflated the price of homes purchased by individuals who were unable to pay their mortgages in the long run,” Haag said. “By doing this to serve their own narrow economic interests, Shahid, and actors like him, contributed to the housing bubble.”

Under the plea agreement, Shahid admitted to directing employees to offer significant cash offers and other incentives to new home buyers in an effort to drive up the price of the homes.

In some cases the homes were worth less than the loan amounts, according to court documents. Prosecutors alleged that Discovery Sales made little or no effort to determine the true value of the homes.

To hide the incentives, Discovery Sales worked with Wells Fargo and J.P. Morgan Chase, which prosecutors described as “preferred lenders,” who knew that the incentives were not being disclosed in loan files, prosecutors said.

When those lenders were not involved, Shahid and his employees took pains to hide the amount of cash being offered so that lenders would approve the buyers’ loans, despite the fact that they had little money of their own, according to court documents.

The inflated prices allowed Seeno’s construction companies to secure credit based on the inflated value of the homes, which were being used to finance property acquisitions or to build new homes, according to court documents.

Shahid is now facing 30 years in prison, a $1 million fine or twice the gain or loss of the scheme, and restitution to be decided by the court.

He is next due in court on Dec. 10 for a status hearing.


One of the hot spots for vehicle burglaries in Concord is Diamond Blvd., and today, the boulevard lived up to its reputation.

Here’s a tip from a Claycordian, whose mom was the victim.

I was wondering if you could share with your wonderful readers to see if anyone saw anything suspicious near Hometown Buffet in Concord on Monday afternoon around 4:25. My parents parked in front of Seafood City Market in Concord and when they came back around 4:35pm, they found the rear glass of their truck was broken and my mom’s purse including an iPhone and iPad was stolen.

If there’s anyone that might have seen anything suspicious, we would love to include it in the police report.

If you saw anything suspicious today, please call the Concord Police Dept.

Vehicle burglaries are on the rise, so beware.

NOTE: Let’s not blame the victim, please.


The first day of school for the Mount Diablo Unified School District and the Martinez Unified School District is on Tuesday (tomorrow), so please drive safely.

Also, the Walnut Creek School District starts on Wednesday.



Look at the photo, it says it all.

Thanks to Laura for the picture.


A person hit by a BART train died in an apparent suicide at San Francisco’s Embarcadero station this afternoon, BART and fire officials said.

San Francisco fire spokeswoman Mindy Talmadge said the fire department received reports that a male standing on the BART platform jumped in front of an oncoming train. The medical examiner’s office was called to the station about an hour later.

The station remains closed and systemwide delays persist. The
person was hit by a Dublin/Pleasanton-bound train at about 1:25 p.m., BART
spokesman Jim Allison said.

BART is running limited single-track service through the Embarcadero station on the San Francisco International Airport-Pittsburg/Bay Point line, but all other lines that run through the station are being turned around, Allison said.

There are 24-hour hotlines available nationwide for anyone coping
with depression or suicidal thoughts.

The Bay Area Suicide and Crisis Intervention Alliance provides regional 24-hour hotlines for suicidal individuals.

In Alameda County, the number is (800) 309-2131, in Contra Costa County it’s (800) 833-2900, in Marin County (415) 499-1100, in San Francisco (415) 781-0500 and in San Mateo County it’s (650) 579-0359.


Traffic Jammin’ with Janis Mara – Every Monday at 2pm on

TRAFFIC JAMMER: Greetings, all! This column is for everyone who negotiates the highways and public transit of the Bay Area. It runs every Monday at 2pm and answers your commuting and transportation questions.

Email your questions to

COMMUTER: The Valero station near my house is a nightmare. There are three bays with three pumps each, but nobody ever pulls up to the furthest pump. It drives me insane. The other day I drove in and the person in front of me stopped their car at the pump even though there were two free pumps in front of it.

All the other pumps were occupied. I honked my horn and they pulled up … by just one pump! So the furthest away pump was still unoccupied!

–Gas Apocalypse Strikes Pumper



The “Water Cooler” is a feature on where we ask you a question or provide a topic, and you talk about it.

The “Water Cooler” will be up Monday-Friday at noon.

Today’s question:

What’s your favorite Mexican restaurant in Claycord?

Talk about it!….




The two archways are up in Concord’s Todos Santos Plaza.

The archway structures are over the pedestrian entrance walkways to the Plaza facing Willow Pass Rd. at the corners of Grant St. and Mt. Diablo St.

The total cost was $125,275, and the funds used for this project were from restricted accounts that must be used to support art, according to the City of Concord.

Thanks to Cal for the photos.


The Contra Costa County Office of the Sheriff and the District Attorney’s Office are continuing to investigate the in-custody death at the Martinez Detention Facility (MDF).

At about 4:32pm on Saturday a Deputy Sheriff was conducting room checks at the MDF when he found a male inmate inside his room hanging from a bed sheet.

The inmate has been identified as 38-year-old Keith Chapman of Walnut Creek.

The Deputy immediately notified jail medical staff and started CPR, according to the Contra Costa County Office of the Sheriff. Medical staff then arrived and took over life-saving measures, and the fire department and an ambulance also responded.

Chapman was pronounced deceased at the scene.

Chapman was originally booked by the Walnut Creek Police Department on November 11, 2014 for robbery, according to the Office of the Sheriff. He was also being held on a parole violation and for possessing a weapon at the jail, authorities said.

An autopsy is scheduled for tomorrow.

RELATED STORY: 38-year-old Inmate Found Dead at the Martinez Detention Facility

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We’ll offer insight on how readers might use our newly-expanded reach to their advantage in the coming days. Each of our sites will retain their original look and feel and, as always, we’re here for our readers.

To view news from each of the three sites, please click on the “more news” tab at the top of the page.



Tarantula love is in the air.

The Mount Diablo Interpretive Association (MDIA) offers free, guided, family-friendly treks to find hairy, harmless Tarantulas crawling the mountain looking for mates.

Although this large, furry arachnid spends much of its time hidden in burrows, as summer wanes, the male Tarantulas emerge from their homes in search of a mate.

Tarantula Trek:

Sunday, August 30; 6 to 8:30 p.m.

Join naturalists Ken Lavin and Liz Watson on a three-mile hike through Mitchell Canyon in search of Mount Diablo’s famous tarantulas Bring water, snacks, camera, flashlight and dress for the weather. Mitchell Canyon Visitor Center at 96 Mitchell Canyon Rd. $6/car with exact change.

Reservations required:  or

Mount Diablo’s Gentle Giant, the California Tarantula:

Sunday, September 20; 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.Sunday, October 18, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.Naturalist Michael Marchiano’s fascinating, free presentation about Mount Diablo’s famous gentle giant, the California Tarantula. Families can enjoy a close encounter with these creepy, totally harmless spiders and learn about where they live, their mating habits, what they eat, and more. Summit Museum at Summit Road in Mt. Diablo State Park; $10/car.

Tarantula Walks:

  • Sunday, September 6; 4 to 6:30 p.m.
  • Sunday, September 13; 4 to 6:30 p.m.
  • Sunday, September 20; 4 to 6:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, September 26; 4 to 6:30 p.m.
  • Sunday, September 27; 3:30 to 6 p.m.
  • Sunday, October 4, 3:30 to 6 p.m.
  • Sunday, October 11, 3:30 to 6 p.m.

Join MDIA naturalists Jim Holmes, Michael Marchiano and its team of docents for a talk about tarantulas followed by a leisurely 2.5 to 3 mile walk to see the male spiders.

These often maligned, feared spiders are completely harmless to humans. Learn why they’re only visible as the summer wanes, where they live, what they eat, how they survive.

Reserve early as the walks fill up quickly; limited to 25 people each.

Reservations required:



Even though this is way beyond Claycord, we wanted to share this with you.

This adorable photo was taken outside the main gate at Folsom State Prison, northeast of Sacramento.

Like we said in the headline, it’s a happy moment from a very depressing place.