The former CEO of a Walnut Creek and Lafayette-based venture capital firm was sentenced in an Oakland courtroom today to two years in prison and ordered to pay $1.3 million in restitution for a wire fraud scheme he devised to pay off personal debts, federal prosecutors said.

A U.S. District Court judge handed down the sentence today to 58-year-old Lafayette resident Stephen B. Lopez, founder of local private equity investment company Lighthorse Ventures, LLC.

Federal prosecutors said that in 2008 Lopez needed to pay off a civil settlement that he personally owed and told victims that Lighthorse Ventures needed the money to pay off a loan.

Victims sent checks to the company that Lopez deposited into the firm’s bank account and later used to write a $600,000 check to pay off his own personal debts, according to prosecutors.

After a joint investigation by the Internal Revenue Service and the FBI, a federal grand jury indicted Lopez in March 2013. He was charged with three counts of mail fraud, seven counts of wire fraud and two counts of money laundering.

A year later, he was also charged with obstruction of justice and witness tampering, according to prosecutors.

As part of a plea agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Lopez pleaded guilty to two counts of wire fraud last August.

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claycord_bestof_gold

Below are the results for the 2014 edition of the “Best of Claycord”.

We received thousands & thousands of votes this year.

Congratulations to all the winners!

Please click on the link below to view the results.

Thanks for voting!

[CLICK HERE TO READ THE REST OF THE STORY....]

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ebola

California doctors returning from Ebola-stricken areas must be placed on a 21-day quarantine after returning to the U.S., the state Department of Public Health said today.

[CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL STORY....]

RELATED STORY: UCSF Nurses Not Happy With Ebola Prep; CPMC Still Hasn’t Publicly Announced Containment Unit

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bobcat

A bobcat was spotted on the trail behind the Clayton Library this afternoon.

Always fun to see one of these little guys running around, thanks to the anonymous Claycordian for the picture!

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Many of you asked Claycord.com to post the video of yesterday’s Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors meeting, where the board voted to give itself a $32K (thousand) a year pay raise.

DANIEL BORENSTEIN with the Contra Costa Times reports “For now, the supervisors’ base salaries will rise from $97,479 a year to $129,227. That doesn’t count their health insurance, $7,200 car allowance, $12,000 taxpayer contribution to a retirement savings account and county payments toward their pensions — all pushing their total annual compensation more than $200,000 each.”

Please click on the play button shown above. The video will start in the correct spot, and will show you comments from the public, as well as comments from the Board of Supervisors. It will end with the audience yelling “SHAME ON YOU”.

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Whyte Park Framed

Think You Should Wait Until AFTER the Holidays to Sell Your Home?

Think again!

Daylight savings time is this coming Sunday … so maybe you’re thinking the window to sell your home is over for the rest of this year. The reality is that the months of October through December are an exceptional time to sell your home – especially here in the Bay Area, and especially this year. If you’ve been mulling the sale and timing of your home, read on and think about getting it ready and/or preparing your home right now instead.

Back in the day, when I was a younger agent selling Barney Rubble his first cave, the conventional wisdom was that spring was the best selling season in real estate – if you missed the boat, you might as well just wait a year rather than sell in the doldrums of summer or the dead zone of winter. The assumption was that families don’t want to move late in the summer, and once school began in the fall,withthe holidays shortly thereafter … no one would want to spend their weekends schlepping around house-hunting.

Selling a home during the winter was (and remains) a barrier for many people – plenty of homeowners don’t want people coming through their homes over the holidays. They want to put up decorations and spend time with family, not with their Realtor.

[CLICK HERE TO READ THE REST OF THE STORY....]

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national weather service

Bay Area trick-or-treaters and Halloween revelers may need to add an umbrella to their costumes this Friday as forecasters predict wet weather throughout the region.

National Weather Service meteorologists say rain and scattered showers are likely during the day Friday and on Halloween night throughout most of the Bay Area.

A cold front heading south from the Gulf of Alaska is expected to reach the North Bay by late Thursday night, with a lower chance of showers inland and in the South Bay, according to the weather service.

The wettest weather is predicted on Friday morning and afternoon, with widespread rainfall throughout the Bay Area that will likely taper off into scattered showers on Friday night, National Weather Service meteorologist Charles Bell said.

“If people have plans Friday evening, definitely stay up to date with the latest forecast,” Bell said.

The North Bay and Santa Cruz mountains will likely see the most rainfall, with totals of up to 1.5 inches expected, according to the weather service.

Thunderstorms are also possible throughout the Bay Area on Friday night, according to forecasters.

Bell said this year’s Halloween forecast is fairly unusual for the Bay Area, where it typically doesn’t rain on the holiday.

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The “Water Cooler” is a feature on Claycord.com 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!

When was the last time you got a raise, and how much was it?

Talk about it….

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Here’s a good question from a Claycordian regarding snack time at school, and whether or not the teachers should control what the students eat.

Hi Claycord. First off, I want to say I LOVE your site. Thank you for all you do. Now, on to the question and concern.

I have a second grader at a local elementary school. The other day, she came home and said her teacher wouldn’t let her eat her morning snack, which was two chocolate chip cookies and about three baby carrots. The snack included cookies, because it was a reward for her finishing her homework and reading an extra 30 minutes the night before. The teacher told her cookies were not a good morning snack, and threw them away in the garbage. She let her eat the carrots and replaced the cookies with two apple slices.

First off, I give my child a good breakfast and provide her with healthy food throughout the entire day. One day with two cookies for a morning snack won’t kill her, and it is my belief that a teacher should not decide what my child should and shouldn’t eat. If I sent cookies with her to eat, then that is my decision.

I asked the teacher about it, to make sure my child was correct (we all know how they love to exaggerate), and the teacher confirmed she really did throw them away.

I want to know what others think about this. Am I over-reacting or do I have a right to be upset about this?

Claycordians, chime in!

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A 20-year-old Concord man who was initially charged in connection with the murder of a young woman in her Concord home in 2011 was ordered released from jail today after reaching a plea deal with the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office.

Johnathan Harriel pleaded not guilty in a Martinez courtroom Monday to residential burglary as part of the plea agreement and was sentenced to six years in jail for his role in the killing of 21-year-old Benicia native Shelby Barnes. However, with conduct credits and time served, Harriel was set to be released, according to Deputy District Attorney Jason Peck.

Peck said in an email that Harriel’s sentence stems from the problems prosecutors had proving his involvement beyond a reasonable doubt in Barnes’ killing.

“The other defendants made admissions including describing the role of Harriel, however those statements are not admissible in trial against Harriel,” the prosecutor said in an email. “Likewise, there is forensic evidence linking the other defendants to the crime while Harriel’s DNA and fingerprints were not found on any duct tape or weapons.”

The other two defendants, 25-year-old Donald Waldecker of Richmond and 23-year-old Randi Dees of El Sobrante, have already been convicted in connection with Barnes’ killing.

Waldecker pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and is serving a 25-year jail sentence while Dees pleaded no contest earlier this year to second-degree murder and was sentenced to 15 years in prison.

Barnes’ murder devastated her friends and family and shocked the small town of Benicia, where she spent most of her life.

In 2011, Barnes moved into a home on Glenside Court in Concord that had been owned by her father but was going into foreclosure.

In October 2011, she allowed Waldecker and Dees, who were a couple at the time, to stay in the house with her.

According to prosecutors, Waldecker came up with a plan to steal the deed to the Concord home and carried out the plan on Oct. 24, 2011, tied her up with the help of Dees and Harriel, bludgeoned her and slit her throat.

The defendants were arrested days after the killing and Harriel, then 17, was tried as an adult.

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claycord_bestof_gold

The results of the 2014 edition of the “Best of Claycord” will be posted at 8am on Thursday, October 30, 2014.

Thanks for voting, and good luck to all the businesses!

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supes

Despite vocal opposition from numerous county employees’ unions, the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors voted this afternoon to give themselves a $32,000 raise.

The board voted 4-1 to pass an ordinance that will boost their pay by about 33 percent and bring their annual salaries from $97,483 to $129,227, with Supervisor Candace Andersen casting the only no vote.

Under the ordinance, each supervisor’s salary will equate to 70 percent of a Contra Costa County Superior Court judge’s pay – following the six other Bay Area counties that also link supervisors’ pay to judicial salaries.

The supervisors who voted for the raise said that while choosing to increase their own salaries is always controversial, the pay hike and linkage to judicial salaries is needed after many years of avoiding the issue and will prevent them from having to set their own salaries in the future.

“It’s unfortunate that we have been in a position where we are in control of our own salaries,” Supervisor Federal Glover said before voting on the ordinance at today’s board meeting.

“I don’t like this, it’s uncomfortable. But it’s necessary,” he said, noting that during his 15 years on the board, county leaders have “kicked the can down the road” and avoided the issue.

[CLICK HERE TO READ THE ENTIRE STORY....]

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A landscape supply business in Concord has been the victim of three break-ins over the past few months, and they’re asking for anybody with information on the burglaries to contact Concord Police.

The pictures aren’t the greatest, but they’re hoping somebody might recognize the individuals shown above so they can just get their items back.

If you contact Concord Police, please reference case #14-13563.

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fire

An exterior fire (outside of a building) was extinguished on Bisso Lane in Concord on Tuesday afternoon.

Several e-waste items (tvs, monitors, computers) were burned during the blaze.

20141028022329_IMG_0591-001

Thanks to everybody for the pictures, including the anonymous Claycordian who sent the one above, and Steve, who sent the one on the bottom.

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Thanks to Dennis for this wonderful find.

We’ll let him explain what you’re looking at….

I have attached some select pages from the 1970 Concord Little League tournament program. Excuse the stained cover. One page shows the 1969 City Little League champs featuring Tom Candiotti, which links to your story last week.

Back then, Concord American, Concord National, Clayton Valley and the Continental Little Leagues had a tournament at the end of the season. Although the minors also competed I only included pictures of the majors team.

I also included the Transcript and KWUN Radio pages from the program. The Transcript shows a very young Jay Bedacarre who I noticed is currently still covering sports in the area.

That’s fantastic. Thanks again, Dennis.

Click on each photo for a much larger view.

RELATED STORY: The Claycord Online Museum – Concord’s Own Tom Candiotti

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: news@claycord.com. 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!

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Two former roommates of a 68-year-old man found dead in his Concord home earlier this month have been arrested on suspicion of his murder, police said today.

Police said a father and son from Vallejo, 50-year-old Douglas Daniel and 24-year-old Bradley Daniel, were arrested last week on probable cause warrants in connection with the murder of James Bale.

Both were taken to county jail but were released on Thursday pending further investigation into the case. No charges have been filed against the suspects.

Police said detectives are still working to determine the motive for the killing but declined to disclose further information about the case, citing the ongoing nature of the investigation.

Officers were called to Bale’s home in the 3400 block of Sanford Street in Concord on the afternoon of Oct. 13 after a caretaker found his body.

Police said the death was suspicious and was later deemed a homicide.

Anyone with information about this case is asked to call Concord police Detective Greg Mahan at (925) 603-5814. Those wishing to remain anonymous can call the Concord Police Department’s tip line (925) 603-5836.

This is Concord’s fourth murder of 2014. Concord had one murder in 2013, and no murders in 2012.

RELATED STORY: Concord Homicide Victim Identified as 68-year-old Man

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The “Water Cooler” is a feature on Claycord.com 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!

If somebody offered you $500,000 to go take care of Ebola patients in Africa for six months, would you do it?

Talk about it….

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It’s gross, and unfortunately, it’s a necessary thing to post.

Can you post something about the person who walks their dog and uses blue poop bags then always throws the bag down on the ground. We’re cleaning up poop bags several times a week and we don’t even own dogs.

This is happening on Minert Rd. in Concord between the middle school and Oak Grove Rd. I attached pictures of three bags I saw during tonight’s run. It’s no wonder the kids at the schools around here throw all their trash down when the adults set no better example.

Sad to see. Thanks for the note.

Claycordians. Garbage cans are ALL OVER THE PLACE, please use them.

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Once again, a keyless entry device was used to break into a vehicle in Claycord.

We first told you about this type of crime last year when a burglar was breaking into vehicles on Olive Dr., using some type of device that unlocked the doors and disabled the alarm system.

And now, it seems as though this happened again, this time in Concord’s Crystyl Ranch neighborhood.

Here’s information (and photos above) from the victim:

Another set of car break ins occurred around 2:30AM on Monday 10-27-14 in the neighborhood of Crystyl Ranch. The car thief was caught on surveillance cameras using a keyless entry bypass device to gain access to the cars. In this case an Infiniti G37 was broken into and several items were taken. Concord PD are involved and CSI have run some fingerprints. Keep your eyes open for this individual. He is wearing a NY letterman type jacket with a hood. He appears to be latino and 5’10” tall and has a mustache.

Contact Concord PD if you have any information.

Neighbors are encouraged to park their cars in their garages or take all items including garage door openers out of their vehicles if parked on the street.

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