Oakland

City administrator quits after one month

In the latest upheaval at City Hall, Fred Blackwell announced Wednesday that he is resigning as Oakland city administrator just one month after being handed the job.

Blackwell is leaving Oakland to take the reins of the San Francisco Foundation, a Bay Area-wide nonprofit with a $1.2 billion endowment.

Blackwell, 44, will continue working in Oakland through mid-June, when he will be replaced on an interim basis by Henry Gardner, who served 12 years under the former title of city manager during the 1980s and early 1990s.

Blackwell's sudden departure underscores an apparent blow to Mayor Jean Quan, who is seeking re-election, at a time of near constant turnover at the top levels of her administration.

Quan promoted Blackwell from assistant city manager last month after agreeing to part ways with Deanna Santana, whom she hired in 2011.

-- Matthew Artz, Staff

MARTINEZ

Alleged San Pablo rape victim on stand

The alleged victim of a Valentine's Day 2010 sexual assault spent a second day on the witness stand Wednesday during the rape trial of Derrick Ware and Robert McNeally, answering questions about inconsistencies surrounding her testimony and the reports she gave to law enforcement officers and medical personnel.


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The 26-year-old woman is not being named by this newspaper because she is the alleged victim of sexual abuse.

Prosecutors say Ware and McNeally offered the woman and a male friend a ride to the East Bay after a night of partying in San Francisco. Instead, Ware, McNeally and a third man drove the couple to Richmond, where the woman's friend was punched and left behind, and then to San Pablo, where she was assaulted. Ware and McNeally are charged with five felonies and multiple enhancements.

Under direct examination, the woman said she had "maybe one drink" at a friend's house before going to San Francisco. Under cross examination from both defense attorneys, the woman said she had "maybe" three shots at the club.

The attorneys asked whether she purposely withheld information regarding a DNA sample taken during an examination after the incident. DNA from the three alleged attackers was recovered, as was a sample from an unidentified fourth person.

Defense attorney Howard Williams asked if she initially withheld the name of the fourth man -- a friend with whom she had consensual sex -- because she didn't want her ex-boyfriend, with whom she eventually reconciled, to find out.

"No," the woman said.

The trial continues Thursday.

-- Gary Peterson, Staff

Danville

Man pleads guilty to stealing millions

A Danville man pleaded guilty in federal court Wednesday to committing wire fraud, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Leo Joshua Kennedy, 62, admitted to fraudulently transferring money out of trust accounts controlled by a company he worked for, according to a news release from U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag. Kennedy worked as an accountant at Backhouse Fiduciary Services, a San Jose-based company that administered beneficiary trust accounts.

Kennedy also admitted to stealing between $7 million and $20 million from various beneficiary trust accounts at the same company, Haag said.

According to the release, Kennedy made the illegal transfers without account-holders' permission and used the funds to pay for his personal investments and living expenses.

The maximum penalty for wire fraud is 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000. Prosecutors will also seek to force Kennedy to pay restitution in the amount of $13,787,151.

He is scheduled to be sentenced Aug. 20 in San Jose.

-- Katie Nelson, Staff

Berkeley

Pair charged in February killing

Two people have been arrested in connection with a February homicide, police announced Wednesday.

Berkeley residents Michael Diggs, 28, and Kneitawnye Sessoms, 40, were arrested Tuesday. Both face murder charges in the death of 54-year-old Sylvan Fuselier, police said.

Fuselier was found dead Feb. 28 at his apartment in the 1100 block of Addison Street after police were asked to conduct a welfare check on the Berkeley resident. According to police, a friend had become concerned that they had not seen the man in some time.

Police said a subsequent investigation led detectives to determine that Fuselier had been murdered, but police are not yet releasing his cause of death or his relationship to Diggs and Sessoms.

-- Katie Nelson, Staff

San Francisco

Yee gets new lawyer in corruption case

State Sen. Leland Yee has turned to a tough former federal and state prosecutor who has handled everything from organized crime cases to murder trials to defend him against federal corruption charges.

Yee on Wednesday signed up San Francisco attorney James Lassart to replace Paul De Meester, who has represented him since he was charged with gun trafficking and corruption last week.

De Meester told this newspaper that the court would be notified Wednesday of the change in representation.

Lassart may make his first appearance for Yee as soon as next week, when the embattled legislator is scheduled to appear again in court. Federal prosecutors are expected to secure a federal grand jury indictment any time to replace the current set of charges, and Yee and other defendants in the case would have to be arraigned on the new indictment.

Lassart is a senior lawyer with the San Francisco law firm Murphy, Pearson, Bradley & Feeney, handling a mix of cases but heavily involved in recent years in representing police officers in hot water.

Lassart was a finalist for the U.S. attorney's job in 2002 during the Bush administration.

-- Howard Mintz, Staff