Michael Theodore Pines, 59, San Diego, an attorney, was convicted of attempting to illegally break into a foreclosed home in Newport Coast, California. Pines was found guilty by a jury of one misdemeanor count each of vandalism, attempted second degree burglary, the attempted unauthorized entry of a dwelling, and obstructing an officer. He faces a sentence ranging from probation up to three years in jail and up to $10,000 in fines at his sentencing Oct. 14, 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, pleaded no contest Aug. 29, 2011, to one misdemeanor count of trespassing. He is ordered to pay $435 in restitution and testified truthfully in Pines‘ trial.
As previously reported by Mortgage Fraud Blog, 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 incorrectly advised Zepeda that the foreclosure was illegal. Pines instructed Zepeda to break in and physically repossess the home.
Pines then contacted the media and a real estate agent hired by the bank as trustee for the foreclosed home and informed 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.
Pines is an attorney whose license was suspended in May 2011. He represented 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.