|For Immediate Release
Case # 06HF1759
|Susan Kang Schroeder
Public Affairs Counsel
FORMER FUGITIVE FELON SENTENCED TO
FOUR YEARS AND FOUR MONTHS IN PRISON AFTER BEING CONVICTED IN ABSENTIA OF FRAUD
*Defendant fled during trial and was arrested one week later in San Diego County
SANTA ANA – A former fugitive was sentenced today to four years and four months in state prison after fleeing during his jury trial and being convicted in absentia of fraud for using stolen credit card information to further his fireplace-parts business. Mark Thomas Georgantas, 47, Tustin, was found guilty by a jury March 4, 2009, of one felony count each of the unlawful use of personal identifying information, acquiring access card account information, receiving stolen property, and grand theft. He was sentenced today, Jan. 29, 2010, to three years and eight months in state prison for the fraud case, plus an additional eight months for fleeing during his jury trial.
At the time of the crime, Georgantas was part-owner of a Santa Fe Springs company, Fire on Ice, which manufactures fireplace products. Between Dec. 16, 2005, and Jan. 10, 2006, Georgantas used stolen credit card information belonging to other people to sustain his business by purchasing parts to build products for his company and making payments on invoices for company answering services.
On Sept. 30, 2003, Georgantas escaped from James A. Musick Facility in Irvine while he was in custody for a 2001 grand theft conviction. The defendant tunneled out of the facility and escaped through a storm drain. He then led police officers on a dangerous high-speed car chase, which ended in Los Angeles County.
In January 2006, the defendant was arrested in a Costa Mesa hotel lobby on a warrant for violating probation on another criminal case related to the fraudulent sale of business franchises. At the time of his arrest, Georgantas was in possession of a briefcase full of stolen credit card information belonging to other people, which led to the investigation and charges in this case. The defendant struck the arresting officer, giving the officer a black eye. He was also in possession of a gun. Georgantas pleaded guilty on May 24, 2006, to possession of a firearm by a felon, resisting an officer, and battery on a peace officer (Case # 06HF0063). He was sentenced to 240 days in jail in that case.
The March 2009 trial against Georgantas for grand theft and use of stolen credit cards lasted 10 days. After lunch on March 3, 2009, the ninth day of trial, Georgantas asked the court to use the restroom prior to resuming the People’s closing arguments. After leaving the courtroom, Georgantas fled the Central Justice Center and did not return for the conclusion of his trial. The Honorable John Conley issued a $1 million warrant for Georgantas’ arrest and resumed closing arguments in the trial without the defendant being present. Georgantas was convicted March 4, 2009, in absentia. He was arrested March 11, 2009, in a San Diego County parking lot by the Pacific Southwest Regional Fugitive Task Force.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Doug Brannan of the Major Fraud Unit prosecuted this case.