FUGITIVE FELON WHO TOOK OFF DURING TRIAL ARRESTED IN SAN DIEGO ONE WEEK AFTER FLEEING

OCDASeal

Orange County District Attorney
Press Release


Tony Rackauckas, District Attorney
401 Civic Center Drive West
Santa Ana, CA 92701

For Immediate Release
Case# 06HF1759




 

March 11, 2009

Susan Kang Schroeder
Public Affairs Counsel
Office: 714-347-8408
Cell: 714-292-2718

Farrah Emami
Spokesperson
Office: 714-347-8405
Cell: 714-323-4486

FUGITIVE FELON WHO TOOK OFF DURING TRIAL ARRESTED IN SAN DIEGO ONE WEEK AFTER FLEEING

*The defendant, who was convicted in absentia, had previously escaped from jail

 

SANTA ANA – A fugitive was arrested today in San Diego County after fleeing during trial and being convicted in absentia of fraud for using stolen credit card information to further his fireplace-parts business. Mark Thomas Georgantas, 46, Tustin, was found guilty by a jury, March 4, 2009, of one felony count of the unlawful use of personal identifying information, one felony count of acquiring access card account information, one felony count of receiving stolen property, and one felony count of grand theft. He was arrested at approximately 2:40 p.m. by a multi-agency task force, the Pacific Southwest Regional Fugitive Task Force, in a hotel parking lot in Chula Vista in San Diego County. He will be booked in San Diego County and transported back to Orange County Jail. Georgantas is being held on $1 million bail and faces a maximum sentence of three years and eight months in state prison. He is scheduled to be sentenced March 27, 2009, in Department C-44, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.

 

Georgantas is a 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 on 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 most recent 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.

 

Senior Deputy District Attorney Doug Brannan of the Major Fraud Unit is prosecuting this case. 

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