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Michael Gressett files claims of malicious prosecution in CoCo rape case

By Lisa Vorderbrueggen
Wednesday, March 21st, 2012 at 8:37 pm in Contra Costa County, Contra Costa District Attorney's Office, Contra Costa politics.

Former Contra Costa sex crimes prosecutor Michael Gressett has turned the tables on the agencies and people who pursued him for the alleged rape of a junior colleague nearly four years ago.  Read my full story here.  Watch video of the press conference here.

The state recently dropped the criminal charges, clearing the way for Gressett to file today damage claims — the precursor to a lawsuit — against Contra Costa County and Martinez, where he says he was the target of politically motivated malicious prosecution.

Speaking publicly for the first time about the graphic case that has wracked the District Attorney’s Office, the gregarious 55-year-old Gressett displayed his legendary spunk to journalists gathered at his attorney’s Oakland office.

“What would satisfy me would be a trial where all the people listening to the cross-examination would see what I have been seeing for years,” said Gressett, impeccably dressed in a dark suit and red-checkered tie.

But in other moments, a visibly distressed Gressett choked back tears as he spoke about the devastating impact on him and his family in the years since accusations surfaced that he raped a deputy district attorney with an ice pick, ice cubes and a gun during their lunch hour.

“It has destroyed my life in every way possible,” Gressett said. “If you Google my name, you see pages and pages of me being a rapist. You can never rectify that.”

He said the ordeal was especially hard on his college-age son.

Gressett even contemplated killing himself, anticipating the sexual assaults he would suffer in prison at the hands of other inmates as a former prosecutor convicted of a sex crime.

“It would have been a death sentence for me,” he said.

Read the rest of the story here.

 

 

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  • rew

    Gressett repeatedly makes mention of a “culture of corruption” in the former DA’s office. I find this just laughable. The previous DA Bob Kochly was a total boy scout, about as straight laced and square a guy as you will find anywhere, a kind of adult version of Oppie Taylor. He was no politician at all, he had been the second in command to Gary Yancey, did a great job, was well liked by everybody. When he ran for DA he beat seven or eight candidates, including current DA Mark Peterson.
    As I remember it Kochly lived in Concord – had modest home, he had nice wife, nice family. I voted for him because I could see the guy had worked his way up to the second in command job, he started out as entry level DA, worked hard, got to the top. He then ran and won the position of elected DA. That’s a nice story to me, you start out with and entry level job, work hard, get promoted, then you get the top job. I thought Kochly was a good DA, I am offended anybody would say Kochly was corrupt, which is what Gresset is doing here.
    Bear in mind – the person making this charge, Michael Gresset, according to a story in todays Chronicle, is a guy who brings a ice pick, handcuffs, ice, and a gun to a love-making session. I’m not a criminal lawyer but Gresett’s love making toys look a lot like a rape kit to me. I’m not saying Gressett raped anybody, I’m just saying the stuff he uses to get in the mood is awfully weird. According to todays Chronicle story Gressett doesn’t deny that he brought these things to what he describes was a consensual S&M encounter with a women in his office.
    I also find Gressetts story about how he was retaliated agaisn’t for running for DA three times – twice agaisn’t Yancey, and once agaisn’t Kochly, just ridiculous. He was never considered a serious candidate when he ran, he raised little money, had few supporters, he was just the office “artichoke” who would run agaisn’t the incumbent DA, the DA’s office version of Harold Stassen.
    I’m also perplexed at Gressett’s view that Mark Peterson is a breath of fresh air in the DA’s office. He seems to be saying the old DA regime was corrupt but we now have Mr. Clean running the office.
    I recall reading in the Martinez Gazette Peterson made a point of thanking Albert Seeno at his swearing in ceremony. I also recall checking the campaign finance database – thoughtfully supplied by the CC Times – when Peterson ran for DA in 2010 and I noticed he was getting most of his money from Seeno and the garbage company in Concord. These were his key backers in his run for DA. As Concord City Councilman Peterson voted numerous times to hike garbage rates in Concord, this is the obvious reason he got all this support from the garbage company. I’m also aware the Albert Seeno wants to build homes at the old Concord Naval Weapons stattion, so obviously this was the reason Seeno backed Peterson to the hilt. Normally these two special interest groups could care less who the DA is.
    In looking at the reasons why Peterson won the DA’s race it’s clear to me he “leveraged” his ties to Seeno and this local garbage company into the DA’s job. He went to the richest people in town – both of whom had business with the City of Concord – and got them to back his campaign for DA.
    As I remember it, the entire law enforcement community did not support his candidacy. He tried and failed to get the endorsements of the police chiefs, the police officer assocations, Sherrif Rupf, former Sherrif Rainey – I mean nobody in the law enforcement community backed Peterson for DA, just Seeno and the Concord garbage company. Given this, I don’t see how Gressett – or anybody else can argue Mark Peterson is a breath of fresh air for the DA’s office.
    I found Peterson ties to Seeno especially troubling. As the CC Times has reported, the Seeno family in Nevada has gotten into trouble with the Nevada Gaming commission because some members of the family hang out with orginized crime figures, the Times has also reported this messy civil lawsuit the Seeno family is involved with, the one where underlings of the Seeno were allegedly threatening to break some business partners legs if he didn’t return money they were owed. I also recall the Seeno company getting fined 1 million dollars for deliberatly violating California enviromental laws several years ago.
    Despite all this stuff when Peterson got sworn in as DA he made a special point to thank Albert Seeno for all his support – which was only fitting – because that’s about the only place – that and the garbage company – where Peterson got any money in his run for DA.
    Getting back to my original point I don’t see how Gressett, or anybody else, can argue the election of Mark Peterson to the DA’s office was a triumph. Voters rejected the candidate backed by law enforcement, and instead opted to vote for the candidate whose only backing came from garbage and development money. Yet Gressett, and others, are trying to claim they have cleaned up the DA’s office! I don’t know about that, I think the fact that Seeno has his hooks in the DA office now smells the place up.
    In thinking about Gressett getting off of this rape charge – on a technecality, and the election of Mark Peterson to the DA’s job, I think you’ve got to conclude it was the triumph of the “artichokes”. I mean this weird pairing of Gressett – the gun, ice pick, and ice guy – and Mark Peterson the newly elected DA – the DA who won the job with zero law enforcement support thanks to his pal Albert Seeno, you can only conclude these two are the twin “artichokes” of the criminal law field.
    Finally, I’m disappointed Bob Kochly isn’t our DA anymore, he was a fine guy, a good public servant, he, came up the hard way, no deals with developers, got that job with his hard work. He had integrity, which is sorely lacking in the DA’s office today.

  • Terrie Beecher

    I hope Mr. Gressett is able to destroy the careers of those involved because I know exactly how he feels. I hired Thomas McKenna in 2006 and trusted him until last year after I requested a copy of my file. At first he refused to give me anything and later I found out why; everything he told me was a lie.

    He helped the D.A.’s convict me and forfeit my car. He made sure I never saw the sheriffs reports and I never knew they lie and when the D.A.’s office sent documents to his office for me to sign, he never told me.

    I took a deal and was granted probation but I never met the Judge, McKenna had me sit out in the hallway and I never knew it mattered. Now I wonder who he had pretend they were me and stand up in court on March 14, 2006 to tell the judge she understood the charges. That’s why I couldn’t be in court because there were many more charges that I never knew about and were never true.

    Why would McKenna do this? It’s because I received a very large alimony check every month and my ex wasn’t happy about that. It’s amazing what money can buy and all of these crooks belong in jail.

  • Bruce R. Peterson Lafayette

    I assumed this case against Michael Gressett was a set up from the start. In one of Mike’s campaign speeches to a Libertarian based audience, he said every city in the county is corrupt. I called him on the telephone & he confirmed this story. The Contra Costa County D. A.’s office is filled with relatives of other politicians. Hercules is the most corrupt city in the county. The D.A’s office response? Nothing. The way to advance in politics in Contra Costa County, is to support special interest groups.

  • rew

    I forgot to mention in my earlier post AD Seeno had thier offices raided by the FBI awhile back, as reported by the Times.
    To paraphrase Gresset and his lawyers they are claiming the DA’s office – now run by Mark Peterson – is now being cleaned up – we have Mr. Goody Two shoes running it now- even though Peterson’s top backer in his run for DA was Albert Seeno. Anybody reading the newspaper lately knows the Seeno’s development offices in Pittsburg was raided by the FBI awhile back, his family members have been disciplined for hanging out with orginized crime types by Nevada Gaming officials, and a business partner is now claiming Seeno has sent goons to collect money owed to Seeno, according to published reports in the Times.
    As a long time follower of politcs in Contra Costa, I am familiar with the history of the AD Seeno company and thier questionable dealings with local politicians. The Seeno company used to run a slate of city Council members in Pittsburg – year after year – and these elected officials would take orders from Seeno. They used to call them the puppets, everytime an election cycle rolled around locals would say, “well who is going to run and be Seeno’s puppets this election”, it was a joke around town. Whenever they had a big vote in Pittsburg the puppet City Council members would all make a phone call to Seeno to get thier marching orders.
    I recall ace Contra Costa Times reporter Dan Borenstein writing a series of penetrating articles of the corrisive nature the Seeno’s had on City of Pittsburg politics about a decade ago, so the Seeno’s and thier long history of buying politicns has been well documented.
    Given this, I don’t see how Gressett and his lawyers can spin a story that we now have “reformers” running the DA’s office. In fact, it appears the opposite is going on because – as stated earlier – current DA Mark Peterson made a point of thanking Albert Seeno for all his support in his run for DA – as reported in the Martinez Gazette. It’s also clear Seeno was his primary financial backer in his run for DA.
    These backers of the Peterson for District Attorney campaign – like Seeno- were not good goverment types. You can’t spin in that way, this was a situation where a local politician – Mark Peterson – tapped financial sources for his campaign that were pretty questionable, as this soap opera going on in Seeno-Land is showing.
    I think the DA’s office – and law enforcement in general – were big losers when Mark Peterson got elected District Attorney. The DA’s office needs to be above reproach, you can’t h tap questionable campaign sources like Peterson did and then claim you are Mr. Goody two shoes, which Peterson and his pals – like Gressett – are trying to claim.

  • FactCheck

    @Rew,

    Time to check your facts. Seeno gave money to O’Malley also pal. I’ll even help you and provide a link to O’Malley’s 2010 campaign filing statement. So what do you have to say about that now that you’re actually informed.

    http://64.166.146.18/CFD_Web_Images/2010/574/00157420100322F16.pdf

    Also, you’re wrong about his support from law enforcement. The Concord POA endorsed him, and many police officers donated to his campaign and attended his events. The reason, if you knew anything about the way in which police associations are run, it is the Board’s of the POA’s decide who they will endorse, not the general membership. You’re just a whinny O’Malley supporter, or as I suspect, a member of the 1% inside of the DA’s Office who can’t come to grips with the fact your guy lost by a large percentage to Mr. Peterson. It wasn’t even close. So you and your “stressed out” one-percenters should get on board or move on.

    Mark Peterson is a breath of fresh air for the DA’s office and Contra Costa County as a whole. The office is now run more efficiently with a stronger emphasis on the issues, like gang enforcement, that matter to residents. So your statement the voters rejected the candidate supported by law enforcement is a joke. What the citizens rejected was a candidate, O’Malley, who was running on daddy’s coattails. They rejected a defense attorney who left the DA’s Office and the bench to defend the criminals in this county. The people wanted, and elected a prosecutor, who has committed his life to putting criminal in jail, not some sleazy criminal defense attorney.

    The management inside of the DA’s office prior to Mr. Peterson’s election was pitiful. Jane Doe reported to the top three, Bob K, Paul S and Brian B she was raped in May. They did not contact the police for months. These public officials were at the time, mandated reporters. That means, when confronted with reports of sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse, under California law, they MUST report it. Did they, no. It is a misdemeanor in this state for a mandated reporter not to file a report.

    So it is correct you now have reformers running the DA’s office. The entire management of the old regime was demoted, as promised by Peterson in the campaign, to restore some ethics to that office. Never again will a rape victim be shunned like what happened to Jane Doe by Kohl, Paul S and Brian B. Never again will the employee’s of that office be subjected to the mis-management of an internal affairs investigation and the foul mouthed questioning Paul S, a man with a history of violence.

    So please, if you’re going to paint Peterson with the Seeno brush, you must paint your buddy O’Malley with the same one. If politicians only took money from squeaky-clean people, there wouldn’t be campaigns.

  • rew

    Peterson’s only real backers in his run for District Attorney in 2010 were Concord Disposal and Albert Seeno Development. Hoffman was also involved as I remember it. They paid for everything, polls, campaign consultants phone-bankers, everything, much of the money wasn’t even reported on campaign forms.
    The Gressett matter was used to focus attention off of this, Peterson’s consultants and pals in the DA’s office successfully planted all these negatives stories, stories that confused voters.
    The larger story, that Peterson was essentially buying the DA’s office with developer and garbage money – without the backing of law enforcement community, was not covered, in my view.
    Is it a good thing to have garbage and development play the role of kingmaker in a DA’s race? Do all future DA’s in this county have to go kiss Seeno’s ring now, is this the standard for this vital law enforcment job?
    I’ve followed DA races for 40 years, we’ve never had this kind of money – garbage and development – used as a tool to “buy” the DA’s office. The DA’s office was off-limits to this kind of pay-for-play money – as it should be. The buck is supposed to stop at the DA’s door. The DA’s job always went to the guy that lined up the most law enforcement support, the DA’s job is a law enforcement job, not a political job.
    In the 2010 DA’s race misleading commercials were put on the air – paid for by garbage and development, that completely confused voters, voters went into the polls with bad information, let me tell you. No way voters normally reject the reccomendations of Police Chiefs, Police Officer Assocations and so forth when they go into the polls to vote for a or Sherriff DA. I have never seen this happen before, but it happened in the 2010 DA’s race due to the corrosive impact of all this money that flowed into the DA’s race, the kind of money that normally doesn’t get involved in law enforcement elections.
    I mentioned this in bloggs durring the campaign, but stopped when Peterson won the election. Voters had spoken – time to move on to other topics – but now Gressett here is trying to falsely claim the previous DA was corrupt.
    I think the fact Peterson’s campaign was primarily funded by Seeno Development is highly relevant to the topic of corruption, because you’ve got numerous law enforcement agencies circling Seeno in Nevada right now. This was Peterson’s top backer, he acknowledged that at his swearing in ceremony, so these charges being made by Gressett – he is saying the old DA regime had a “culture of corruption”, just doesn’t wash. I think the fact that Seeno was Peterson main guy is highly relevant to the issue of corruption due to all these breaking stories on Seeno Development.

  • John W.

    Money in campaigns for offices like judgeships and DA, where public expectations for probity are rightly higher than for other elective offices, is not a good thing. But the fact that Peterson received campaign contributions from people not generally regarded as Eagle Scouts does not mean he is somehow corrupt. Peterson is part of the Contra Costa Republican crowd. I’m a Dem. But it is a nonpartisan office. I voted for him because (a) he wasn’t O’Malley; (b) his experience in city government; (c) his track record of putting away bad guys; and (d) having personally had the chance to watch him in the courtroom prosecuting a murder case and seeing the respect the presiding judge had for him.

  • FactCheck

    Mark didn’t buy anything, in fact, go back and check the Contra Costa County website, O’Malley raised far more money than Mark did. No one bought this election. Mark won because he had a message and O’Malley did not. Mark won because he is a seasoned prosecutor and his opponent is a defense attorney.

    And what false stories were planted? Please name one and provide us all with an example. Mark’s message was O’Malley is a defense attorney, which is not false. Mark’s message is he is a veteran prosecutor and tough on gangs. Not false.

    Also, Mark didn’t do TV ads so please direct us to some place we can view those.

    And I am glad we can both agree the buck stops at the DA’s door, exactly what Kochly was unable to do. If that were true under Kochly, he would not have committed a misdemeanor by failing to report a rape to the police. But he did, along with his top management. So why is that not registering with you. Why are you not criticizing Kohl for his disrespect of the law?

    You are a sore loser and trying to somehow disparage Mark by linking him to Seeno is unproductive. I mentioned how O’Malley got money from Seeno as well, you seemed to have glazed right over that one.

    Can you please explain why it is ok for O’Malley to get Seeno money but not Mark?

  • Bruce R. Peterson Lafayette

    Contra Costa County’s Supervisors & District Attorney’s have always received campaign money from garbage companies & developers. When people start voting for a politician who does not raise money from special interest groups, things might change. Mike Gressett did not raise money from special interest groups for his campaigns for District Attorney. He lost.
    In 1996, A Lafayette City employee was set up, charged & terminated, with help from the D.A.’s office. He had complained about bad management. His story made the newspaper. Or I should say, City managements version of the story, made the newspaper. The City employee’s story & Milke Gressett’s story are strikingly alike. They both complained about bad management

  • rew

    One thing that really works agaisn’t any theory that we have a “fresh air regime” in the DA’s office is all these law suits related to the DA’s office the county consul has to deal with every day now.
    The county is now being sued by former DA Brian Baker – who has since retired. He is alledging Hal Jewet, Peterson’s right hand man, sucker punched him the office during the final days of the Kochly era. The county has already been sued by a former lady DA – who recieved a $400,000 settelment from the county. In that suit she alledged she was harrassed and possibly raped by DA Michael Gresset, also a key Peterson supporter.
    Now Gressett himself has filed suit, he is trying to claim no harassment or rape took place and that he was “set up” by the Kochly regime, which he is claiming was corrupt. He is claiming there was a “culture of corruption” during the Kochly era, even though many – including myself – have concluded Peterson got elected because of the skillful way he used Albert Seeno’s money in his campaign, which he sort of acknowledged when he made a point to thank Al for all his support at his swearing in ceremony.
    If you look closely at what is happening with these law suits – which are costing the county major bucks, all seem to be emenating from Peterson supporters – notably Jewet and Gressett, they are happening because of actions taken by people from Peterson camp. But they seem to be – Gressett for sure, trying to blame Kochly. I think any fair minded person can readily see this is just nonsense.
    Peterson, it’s worth noting, has been loudly complaining about budget cuts to his office,
    even though you can readily see county officials have had to set aside money to pay lawyers who are are settling or fighting cases that are a direct result of actions taken by his friends in the DA’s office.
    In looking at these guys – Peterson, Jewet, and Gressett it’s pretty clear to me you had this group of disgruntled alpha males in the DA’s office – they wern’t being promoted, Jewet of course, is handy with his fists according to news accounts, and Gresset – you know he’s an alpha male because he morphs into the Marquis DeSade in his off hours – and they staged this alpha male uprising back in 2010 – staged what amounted to a coup by capturing the DA’s office, which they financed with Albert Seeno’s money, who – according to news accounts, may be the biggest alpha male of all, if you believe some of the stuff you are reading in the papers recently.
    I see no way you can conclude this new regime in the DA’s office is a reform group. This is no “breath of fresh air” regime. Too much money now be spent on squandered on civil suits caused by Peterson’s pals. Anytime you have a situation where a bunch of law suits are being filed like this, that’s an indicator of poor management. I’m looking forward to voting this regime out in the next election.

  • Elwood

    Actually, Rew, you’ve got it all wrong. Peterson is obviously a tool of Satan and Jewet and Gresset are his imps.

    I also heard that Peterson took money from al Qaida!

  • James B.

    None of the three candidates in the 2010 Contra Costa District Attorney race deserved the job. Can anyone produce evidence to support the contention that special interest “fat cats” like Seeno financed Peterson’s campaign? Are the campaign finance reports on the internet? If Peterson is not a true reformer, it’s time to find someone else to run the D.A.’s office.

  • John W.

    Re: #11

    “I also heard that Peterson took money from al Qaida!”

    Darn, wish I knew that before voting. Makes sense though. After all, both the Seeno and Bin Laden families are involved in construction. Think about it!

  • rew

    #8. The Mark Peterson for District Attorney campaign finance statements are a fairy tale. Much of the money spent on his behalf was never reported. The developers, garbage companies, and casino owners that financed his campaign don’t play by the rules, the state’s campaign laws are toothless, and these big money boys that backed Peterson now how to circumvent them. The super rich, as I think many know, often don’t think the rules apply to them.
    This Judge that ran for DA played by the rules, as you would expect of a Judge – a Judge that was overwhelming supported by the law enforcement community. I looked at the finance statements carefully, Peterson’s were full of “straw” contributors, never saw so many in my life on a campaign statement. As stated earlier, this is no “reform” movement in charge of the DA’s office now, you can’t spin it that way. You can’t tap Albert Seeno’s money to run for DA and then claim you are a reformer.

  • John W.

    Re: #14

    Now that Peterson has held the office for a while, maybe it’s time to judge him by his performance in office, not by who contributed what to whose campaigns. If you think he is doing a terrible job, you can try to fire him next election.

  • Elwood

    @ #15 John W.

    Please stop being reasonable.

  • John W.

    That’s just to throw you off guard once in a while, Elwood. I’ll do my best to be unreasonable.