Press Releases

The DA’s Office Warns the Public to Beware of Scammers During this Time of Crisis Mar 20, 2020

Here are some tips:

  • Think before you click: stay away from unknown sources that could download a virus onto your computer or device.
  • Be skeptical of callers from unknown numbers or prerecorded messages that ask you for information like your address, credit card information, social security number or other personal information.
  • Ignore offers for vaccinations or other treatments from individuals or unknown companies.
  • Do your homework when it comes to donations to charities claiming to help the crisis.
  • Be alert to “investment opportunities.” The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is warning people about online promotions, including on social media, claiming that the products or services of publicly-traded companies can prevent, detect, or cure coronavirus and that the stock of these companies will dramatically increase.

In order to report an apparent scam or fraudulent claim please email the DA’s Consumer Protection Division at AskCEPD@acgov.org

Apartment and Home Rental Scam Alert Mar 10, 2020

In this tight housing market, scammers are out there looking to take advantage of unwitting renters. DA Nancy O’Malley wants anyone in the rental market to be cautious when looking to rent an apartment or house. Be vigilant and aware of warning signs and red flags.

1. THE PRICE IS TOO LOW – Scammers will try to entice potential victims with below market pricing on an apartment. Often, a below market price will be explained away with emergency circumstances, such as international relocation or foreign job opportunities.

2. THE PROPERTY IS NOT BEING SHOWN – Beware of situations where you are not given the opportunity to see the property. This is a red flag that either the property doesn’t exist or that the person does not have legal access to the property. Also be suspicious of a person who will meet you outside of a property but won’t show you the inside. This is also an indication that the person does not have the legal right to rent the property.

3. A DEPOSIT IS REQUIRED BEFORE YOU CAN SEE THE APARTMENT – Anytime someone wants you to electronically transfer money, whether by app, wire, money order, or prepaid debit card, you should automatically be skeptical. Once the money is transferred, it is almost impossible to get the money back. You should not be charged a fee to see a property, and never send a deposit for a property that is “sight unseen.”

People in the housing market can safeguard themselves by taking a few easy steps.

1. Avoid listings that priced significantly below market and seem like a “deal.”

2. Make sure you can tour the outside and inside of any property before you rent it.

3. Never send money electronically if you have not seen a property, even if you have signed a lease for it.

4. Get the name, address, and phone number of the person you’re dealing with and do a basic internet search of the person and property to see if things match up.

If you encounter a suspicious listing or have been the victim of a rental scam, please contact the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office at 510-383-8600 or make a complaint online at https://www.alcoda.org/cewpd/complaint_forms

Alameda County DA O’Malley Warns Against Price Gouging During State of Emergency Mar 4, 2020

DA Nancy O’Malley has issued a stark warning to all Alameda County merchants that her office will be vigilant in investigating and prosecuting cases of price gouging while Alameda County is under a State of Emergency due to the novel Coronavirus. She also encouraged Alameda County residents to report any instances price gouging when shopping for consumer goods or medical supplies. Price gouging refers to sellers trying to take unfair advantage of consumers during an emergency or disaster by greatly increasing prices for essential consumer goods and services.

“The law prevents businesses from profiteering when we are in a state of emergency. All residents of Alameda County must continue to have access to necessary supplies, especially when the community’s health is at stake. My office will ensure that businesses adhere to the law and do not exploit consumers that are trying to protect themselves and their families,” says District Attorney O’Malley.

California’s anti-price gouging statute, Penal Code Section 396, prohibits raising the price of many consumer goods and services by more than 10% after an emergency has been declared. Both Governor Gavin Newsom and the Alameda County Public Health Department have declared a state of emergency because of the spread of COVID-19.

The price gouging law applies to any person or business selling goods or services including consumer goods, food and drink items, emergency supplies, medical supplies, storage, emergency cleanup materials. The Governor’s Proclamation of a State of Emergency explicitly states that price gouging protections will remain in effect through September 4, 2020.

Violations of the price gouging statute are subject to criminal prosecution that can result in one-year imprisonment in county jail and/or a fine of up to $10,000. Violators are also subject to civil enforcement actions including civil penalties of up to $5,000 per violation, injunctive relief, and mandatory restitution.

The Alameda County District Attorney’s Office is committed to protecting consumers during this emergency. The office will investigate and can prosecute individuals or businesses who have engaged in illegal price gouging. Anyone who has been the victim of price gouging, or who has information regarding potential price gouging, is encouraged to immediately file a complaint with the District Attorney’s Office by going to our website (https://www.alcoda.org/cewpd/) or by calling (510) 383-8600. For more information on price gouging, please see the Attorney General’s website (https://www.oag.ca.gov/consumers/pricegougingduringdisasters)

DA O’Malley and Asm. Bauer-Kahan Announce Bill to Expand Enforcement Actions on Utility Companies Feb 18, 2020

Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley, Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan (D-Orinda), California State Senators Steve Glazer (D-Orinda) and Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo), have announced the introduction of The Utility Accountability and Wildfire Prevention Act of 2020, AB 2356.

AB 2356 will expand enforcement authority to the Attorney General and local District Attorneys to bring an action against an electrical corporation for failure to comply with current safety standards, regulations and requirements. Currently, only the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has this authority.

District Attorney O’Malley is the sponsor of the bill. “California must face the reality that climate change will continue to pose massive threats of wildfires throughout the state. We cannot afford to be complacent. This bill allows local District Attorneys and the Attorney General to enforce laws requiring utilities to take all necessary measures to ensure their equipment is safe and well maintained. As District Attorneys, our job is to ensure the safety of our communities. This legislation gives us the tools to prevent further catastrophic loss of life and property by ensuring utility companies abide by the laws,” stated DA O’Malley.

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Alameda County DA O’Malley Announces $7.5 Million Settlement with Walgreens Feb 3, 2020

Alameda County District Attorney Nancy E. O’Malley has announced that her office, along with the District Attorney of Santa Clara County, settled a consumer protection action against Walgreen Co. (“Walgreens”). The judgment was filed in Alameda County Superior Court.

As alleged in the complaint, the district attorneys brought this action following the discovery that Walgreens had employed an individual by the name of Kim Thien Le as a pharmacist at multiple bay area pharmacy locations for over a decade, even though she was not licensed by the Board of Pharmacy.

“This case serves as a cautionary tale for every health care provider that hires people into positions requiring a professional license,” District Attorney O’Malley says. “The burden is on the company to make sure its employees are properly licensed and to complete a thorough background check. My office will be vigilant in protecting consumers and enforcing licensing laws.”

The complaint alleges that Walgreens failed to vet Ms. Le thoroughly when it promoted her to positions requiring a license and failed to make sure that its internal systems were strong enough to prevent an employee from evading them. The complaint alleges that Ms. Le performed one or more of the pharmacist-required steps for over 745,000 prescriptions, including over 100,000 prescriptions for controlled substances.

Ms. Le’s employment with the company ended in or about October 2017. She has since been criminally charged by the California Attorney General’s Office with false personation and related felonies. Ms. Le pleaded not guilty to the charges and her case is pending. (People v. Kim Thien Le, Alameda County Docket #19-CR-011517, filed July 25, 2019.)

Once this matter came to light, Walgreens took immediate steps to re-verify the licenses of its pharmacy employees around the country and instituted other remedial measures.

The civil judgment requires Walgreens to ensure licensure compliance by implementing a verification program, posting proof of licensure, conducting annual audits, and submitting an annual compliance report. The judgment also requires Walgreens to pay approximately $7.5 million in penalties, costs and remedial payments.

Alameda County DA O’Malley and Hayward South NAACP Launch: Lifting Barriers Towards a Clean Slate Jan 29, 2020

HAYWARD, CA - On January 29, 2020 the District Attorney’s Office, in coordination with the Hayward South Alameda County NAACP, launched a program to provide a clear and straightforward process for eligible individuals to request dismissal of prior criminal convictions.

“We know that a prior conviction on a person’s record can have a huge impact on his or her ability to move forward in life. The District Attorney’s Office is proud to partner with the NAACP to help pave a path towards a life free from the roadblocks resulting from a criminal history,” says DA O’Malley.

The District Attorney’s Office will staff two Saturday drop-in workshops at the Hayward Public Library to assist individuals in filling out and completing petitions for dismissal. The only pieces of information that will be needed at the workshops are a full name, date of birth and PFN (personal file number). District Attorney staff will be able to look up prior cases and conviction information. Blank petitions will also be available at the NAACP Office in Hayward. The NAACP will be able to assist individuals in filling out and completing the petitions, which will then be delivered to the DA’s Office.

Once the District Attorney’s Office reviews the petitions, staff will contact the individuals seeking dismissal, will allow eligible individuals to waive appearance in court, and will submit the petitions to the court for review and dismissal.

Click here to view important applicant information for dismissal

The two workshop dates will be February 8 and 15 from 10am to 2pm at the Hayward Public Library located at 888 C Street in Hayward.

2020 Human Trafficking Awareness Billboard Campaign Jan 8, 2020

Alameda County District Attorney Launches New Campaign Designed to Engage All Community Members in the Fight to End Human Exploitation and Trafficking

2020 Human Trafficking Awareness Month and Campaign

“TAKE THE PLEDGE”

Alameda County District Attorney Nancy E. O’Malley, Robert Schmitt, Regional President, and Bruce Qualls, Vice President, Clear Channel Outdoor Real Estate and Public Affairs Clear Channel Outdoor, have unveiled a new campaign to combat human trafficking in all forms. The campaign is called “TAKE THE PLEDGE”. It invites and challenges members of the community to declare their support of the efforts to combat human trafficking and exploitation. “TAKE THE PLEDGE” will be presented on Clear Channel billboards and bus shelters which are visible throughout Alameda County. The Campaign aims to mobilize the public, to heighten community awareness and education and to let people know how they can support the fight against human trafficking. Members of the community can click on the “TAKE THE PLEDGE” icon on HEATWatch.org and register their support. They can also learn how they too, can support the efforts of the many activists and abolitionists working to end human trafficking.

The Alameda County District Attorney’s Office and Clear Channel Outdoor have collaborated for many years to deliver education and awareness to communities throughout Alameda County and the greater Bay Area. January 2020 is National Human Trafficking Awareness Month. “TAKE THE PLEDGE” is a way to start the new decade with determination and action aimed at stopping both commercial sexual exploitation and commercial labor exploitation.

The 2020 campaign consists of billboards and bus shelters visible in neighborhoods and from roadways throughout the Alameda County. The billboard’s message “TAKE THE PLEDGE” challenges every member of the community to play a role in putting an end to modern-day slavery. The billboards drive internet traffic to the DA’s Human Trafficking website, where one can take the pledge anonymously and, in addition, sign up for text and/or e-mail alerts with messages detailing ways to become involved in the fight. From heightening understanding and education, to starting campus clubs and participating in events and actions, there will be something for everyone. To “TAKE THE PLEDGE” simply click on the icon at HEATWatch.org. By doing so, individuals are showing the community’s support to ending human trafficking.

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ALAMEDA COUNTY DA O’MALLEY ANNOUNCES CONSUMER PROTECTION SETTLEMENT WITH FASHION NOVA INC. Dec 19, 2019

Alameda County District Attorney Nancy E. O’Malley announced today that her office, along with the District Attorneys of Los Angeles, Napa and Sonoma Counties, settled a civil consumer protection action against a California company known as Fashion Nova, Inc. The judgment was filed in Alameda County Superior Court and signed by Judge Tara Desautels.

Fashion Nova is a retailer that operates in the “fast fashion” industry. “Fast fashion” refers to clothing that moves rapidly from fashion shows or popular culture to mass production and retail sale. The majority of Fashion Nova’s sales take place on-line, over its Internet website wwww.fashionnova.com. The civil action alleges that Fashion Nova violated consumers’ rights by repeatedly failing to fulfill and ship orders within the legally mandated timeframe.

California law requires that orders placed over the Internet generally must be shipped within thirty days, failing which the business must either provide a refund, or take some other action, such as sending the buyer a written notice regarding the delay. The content of these “delay notices” are regulated by statute and must include, among other things, the expected duration of the delay and an offer of a refund, upon request.

The complaint alleges that Fashion Nova repeatedly violated these laws by failing to ship items to California consumers within 30 days of their orders and, at least until April 2018, by failing to provide adequate delay notices. The complaint alleges that Fashion Nova committed other violations of the law, such as failing to adequately disclose its return policy on the website.

“These types of consumer protection laws in California are on the books to make sure retailers treat their customers in an equitable and professional manner,” District Attorney Nancy O’Malley said. “When consumers place an order over the Internet, they are entitled to receive the items promptly or get a legally adequate explanation why they haven’t.”

The judgment includes an injunction to prevent further violations of law and requires Fashion Nova to pay approximately $250,000 in direct restitution to consumers. Without admitting liability, Fashion Nova was further ordered to pay $1.5 million in costs, penalties and other remedial payments. The company cooperated fully in the investigation and agreed to make changes to its business practices.

DA O’Malley Announces Felony Charges Against Livermore Man in 1997 Cold Case Sexual Assaults Nov 18, 2019

Alameda County District Attorney Nancy E. O’Malley has announced that her office has filed multiple felony sexual assault charges against Livermore resident Gregory Paul Vien, based on crimes committed against two women in 1997 in the cities of Livermore and Union City, CA.

On May 6, 1997, the defendant attacked a woman as she walked to BART after work. He dragged her to a secluded area where he sexually assaulted her. Union City Police detectives were able to obtain a sample of the suspect’s DNA from the victim’s clothing. On September 7, 1997, the defendant attacked a second victim while she was on a walk near Livermore High School in the city of Livermore. The defendant sexually assaulted the victim, and the Livermore Police Department was able to collect a DNA sample from the crime scene.

The DNA samples from both crime scenes were analyzed in a timely manner, and found to be a match to each other, meaning that law enforcement knew that the same person was responsible for both assaults. The samples were uploaded to CODIS, the national DNA database. However, no “hit” was made to determine the identity of the assailant.

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DA O’Malley Announces Funding Plan to Combat Illegal Dumping in Alameda and Contra Costa County Nov 13, 2019

Today, Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan (D-Orinda) joined Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley, Contra Costa District Attorney Diana Becton, Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley and Contra Costa County Supervisor Burgis to announce funding for a one-year pilot program to combat illegal dumping in the two counties.

$750,000 in State funds, secured by Assemblymember Bauer-Kahan, now support the creation of pilot programs in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties by funding increased law enforcement efforts to combat illegal dumping in both counties.

“Illegal dumping is an environmental justice issue that disproportionately affects disadvantaged communities, and impacts the sense of well-being of all who live and work in neighborhoods where it is rampant,” says DA O’Malley. “Unscrupulous commercial haulers as well as individual violators illegally dispose of construction debris, mattresses, and trash of all sorts, wreaking havoc on the environment, ruining neighborhood streets and forcing taxpayers to pick up the tab to clean up the tremendous amounts of garbage dumped on city streets, highways, parks, and in our waterways. Dumping “hot spots” become breeding grounds for vermin and impact public health.”

“This state funding will provide our counties with the resources they need to combat this difficult problem,” said Bauer-Kahan. “The funding will provide both counties with the ability to have a full time police officer to enforce illegal dumping laws and make a huge impact in tackling this problem” she concluded.

The funds will support increased investigations of illegal dumping by dedicated peace officers, which will provide for much-needed deterrence. In Alameda County, these peace officers will coordinate their efforts with a newly formed Alameda County Regional Illegal Dumping Task Force, which has developed both a strong sense of what works and has significant ties to communities within the County and is able to provide helpful information and evidentiary leads. Evidentiary leads will also be provided by surveillance cameras placed at illegal dumping "hot-spots" and from clues found in waste by workers from the Men of Valor Academy, an Oakland non-profit program founded by Acts Full Gospel Church that provides job training for formerly incarcerated individuals. Suspects identified in these investigations will be held to account. Penalties for illegal dumping vary based on the severity of the crime, and can range from fines, to community service picking up trash, to jail time.