MARTINEZ — Prosecutors filed felony charges against a developer who signed a nearly $1 million deal to build a child care center in Oakley, then allegedly made off with $334,000, according to court records.
Craig Davidson, 56, was charged earlier this month with misappropriating public funds, embezzlement and filing a false tax return, according to court records. The charges are related to a 2013 deal between the city of Oakley and Davidson’s San Diego development company, Seeker Development.
According to the deal, Davidson would be given $925,000 to build a child care center at a parcel on 1137-1311 Neroly Road. But after taking an initial $350,000 payment, Davidson dropped off the face of the Earth, according to Oakley city officials who sued him for the money in 2015.
The embezzlement charge carries a statute of limitations enhancement that says Davidson’s alleged crimes were not discovered until October 2017, when he allegedly confessed during a deposition hearing.
According to court records, the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s office opened a criminal investigation into Davidson’s alleged misappropriation last May, when Oakley City Attorney Derek Cole submitted a complaint to the office. Cole provided prosecutors copies of statements Davidson made in proceedings during the lawsuit, when he allegedly said he spent the money to “live and try to do business.”
A forensic accountant with the district attorney’s office found Davidson spent about $16,000 on the childcare product and kept the remainder of the $350,000 on “personal expenses and to repay loans.” Prosecutors also collected evidence that he had failed to report the income on his tax returns, according to court records.
In 2013, when Oakley’s City Council unanimously voted in favor of paying Davidson $925,000, Councilman Randy Pope openly wondered if they were making a mistake. Then-Councilman Doug Hardcastle noted Davidson was not present and remarked, “It just seems to me that if we’re going to give somebody almost a million dollars he would show up to the meeting.”
“We wouldn’t issue any funds until we were satisfied,” responded then-City Attorney Bill Galstan.
In late 2015, the city made a deal with a new developer to build the child care center.
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