Michael Theodore Pines, 59, San Diego, California, an attorney, faces trial for attempting to illegally break into a foreclosed Newport Coast home.
Pines is charged with one misdemeanor count each of vandalism, second degree burglary, the unauthorized entry of a dwelling, and resisting and obstructing an officer. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of one year in jail and up to $10,000 in fines. Opening statements were expected to begin Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2011, at 8:30 a.m. in Department H-3, Harbor Justice Center, Newport Beach.
Co-defendant and former homeowner Rene Hector Zepeda, 72, Newport Beach, California, pleaded no contest to one misdemeanor count of trespassing. He is ordered to pay $435 in restitution and will testify truthfully in Pines‘ trial.
Zepeda owned a home at 19 Coral Cay, Newport Coast, California, until July 2009, when he lost the home to foreclosure. In 2010, Zepeda retained Pines as his attorney.
Without making any attempt to undo the foreclosure or file any case to prove the foreclosure was defective, Pines is accused of incorrectly advising Zepeda that the foreclosure was illegal. Pines is accused of instructing Zepeda to break in and physically repossess the home.
Pines is accused of then contacting the media and a real estate agent hired by the bank as trustee for the foreclosed home and informing them that Pines and Zepeda would be taking possession of the home on Oct. 13, 2010. The agent contacted the Newport Beach Police Department (NBPD), who investigated this case.
On the morning of Oct. 13, 2010, Pines is accused of diving with Zepeda and a locksmith to the Newport Beach home with the intention of breaking into the house. NBPD advised the defendants that they could be arrested if they illegally entered the property, which was now owned by the bank.
In front of the officers, Pines is accused of instructing Zepeda to ignore the officers’ warning and break into the home. Zepeda and Pines are accused of then breaking a window with the intention of gaining entrance into the house. Both defendants were arrested, cited, and released.
Pines is an attorney whose license was suspended in May 2011. He is representing himself in this trial. He is also facing criminal charges in separate cases in Ventura and San Diego Counties.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Pete Pierce of the Real Estate Fraud Unit is prosecuting this case.