|For Immediate Release
Case # 11HM08632
September 1, 2011
|Susan Kang Schroeder
Chief of Staff
ATTORNEY CONVICTED OF ILLEGALLY BREAKING INTO FORECLOSED NEWPORT COAST HOME
NEWPORT BEACH – An attorney was convicted today of attempting to illegally break into a foreclosed Newport Coast home. Michael Theodore Pines, 59, San Diego, 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.
Zepeda owned a Newport Coast home at 19 Coral Cay 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.
On the morning of Oct. 13, 2010, Pines and Zepeda drove with 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 instructed Zepeda to ignore the officers’ warning and break into the home. Zepeda and Pines then broke 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 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.