Don Perata’s daughter-in-law dead at 38

The death of former state Senate President Don Perata’s daughter-in-law, found in her swimming pool Saturday morning, is under investigation by Napa Police.

Family members found Catherine Perata, 38, dead shortly before 9 a.m. Saturday.

Catherine Perata and her husband, Nick, 40, in 2009 founded a wine country tour company, Perata Luxury Tours & Car Services. The couple has two daughters.

Nick Perata is the son of Don Perata, 67, of Orinda, who was the California State Senate’s president pro tem from 2004 to 2008, and unsuccessfully sought the Oakland mayor’s office in 2010.

Earlier, Don Perata was a state Senator from 1998 to 2004; an Assemblyman from 1996 to 1998; a 1994 primary candidate for state controller; and an Alameda County Supervisor from 1986 to 1994.

Don Perata didn’t immediately return a phone call seeking comment Monday.

The family endured tough times as the FBI probed the financial and political relationships between Don and Nick Perata and a wide range of associates. The years-long public corruption investigation ended in 2009 with no charges filed against anyone, but not before agents had served search warrants at sites including both Don and Nick Perata’s Oakland homes.

We’ll share more details as we get them…

UPDATE @ 4:55 P.M.: Napa Police Capt. Jeff Troendly said an autopsy was conducted Monday and found Perata had drowned. “Now we’re waiting for toxicology to come back and see how that played into any part of this,” he said, adding those tests might take a few weeks.

Troendly said the Napa Valley Major Crimes Task Force assisted with the investigation not because of any particular suspicion of foul play, but only because Napa Police were already stretched thin by the massive Bottle Rock Napa Valley concert festival that ran through the weekend.

“Right now we’re still in the process of interviewing some people, getting more information and background on Ms. Perata, everything leading up to that evening and to her demise,” Troendly said, noting she was last seen alive Friday night.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.