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Auburn woman charged with $600K theft from elder asks for release

Court to hear requests from D’Arsi and Mark Champlin in elder theft case
By: Jon Schultz, Journal Staff Writer
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After spending more than six months in jail awaiting trial on 14 felony charges, a hearing today for Auburn’s D’Arsi and Mark Champlin could decide whether D’Arsi is released from custody and Mark, representing himself, gets some expert assistance to fight his charges.

The Champlins are being charged with embezzling around a half million dollars from Mark’s 86-year-old mother and have been held in Santa Rita Jail in Dublin since mid-September 2012.

The diamond from D’Arsi’s engagement ring and about two dozen friends and family members could help fund her release.

The Champlins have pleaded not guilty to a total of 14 felony charges, with each of them facing six counts of grand theft of personal property totaling $430,000 and corresponding counts of theft from an elder or dependent. D’Arsi Champlin also faces additional charges of $130,000 in grand theft of personal property and receiving stolen property.

D’Arsi’s attorney, Dan Roth, filed a motion to have her $655,000 bail reduced and grant her release on own recognizance or, alternately, to allow her to be released by posting the current bail amount.

Early on in court proceedings, a judge imposed a hold on D’Arsi’s release, determining there had been probable cause to believe funds to post bail would have been feloniously obtained based on the request filed by Alameda County Deputy District Attorney Connie Campbell.

“I will oppose any bail reduction and I will ask the court to examine the source of the funds,” said Campbell, declining to comment further.

The application for release on bail is made on the grounds that none of the funds and property used to pay the amount was obtained by a felonious means, according to Roth’s written motion.

A network of 25 of D’Arsi’s friends and family has put up $34,400 toward her bail money, and her father sold the diamond from the engagement ring Mark bought for her in 2004, prior to the alleged theft – adding $18,000 more to D’Arsi’s fund, according to Roth’s motion.

In total, $52,400 has been posted with Bail House Bail Bonds in Auburn to secure D’Arsi’s release, according to the court document. Roth provided the court with records of checks and credit card receipts for those transactions.

“D’Arsi Champlin poses no risk to the public. She has no criminal record and lacks any record of failures to appear in court,” Roth wrote. “She is a 48-year-old mother of two who is on permanent federal disability due to a serious chronic illness.”

In his motion, Roth called the current bail amount excessive and also says the DA’s request for a hold on D’Arsi’s release contained “at least two material false statements,” both related to her house at 11519 Stonebrook Drive in Auburn.

He wrote that, contrary to the DA’s declaration, none of the purchase records provided as evidence show D’Arsi bought the house from Mark, and furthermore Roth contested how much money Mark gave her in 2011 that went toward her mortgage.

“In light of these prior misrepresentations in the (release hold) context and since, the Court should view with skepticism any claims by the government that the bail money provided today was obtained by anything other than lawful means,” Roth wrote.

Mark Champlin, 61, has been unsuccessful with three motions he filed recently, two related to his status as his own legal representative. He did have a continuance granted for the trial that is set to begin April 15 at the Hayward Hall of Justice.

His current motion requests to have an investigator that could assist him in obtaining information related to his case. The move comes after Mark failed at his attempt to regain possession of an audio player provided to him by the DA so he could listen to evidence, according to his motion papers.

His recent requests also reveal that he no longer wishes to represent himself, a decision he said that was made under duress, according to court documents.

Mark does not qualify for assistance from a public defender because he is said to have too many assets, though he contests that finding and says that he cannot afford a private attorney, according to his motion.

He sought to have the court appoint a private attorney for him, and not a public defender, because he said the public defender had taken a “hostile attitude” toward him in the courtroom. In a separate motion that was not granted, Mark requested to be able to have unrestricted jail visits with Roth.

A message left at the Alameda County Public Defender’s Office was not returned Tuesday.

Mark’s bail is set at $830,000.

 

Jon Schultz can be reached at jons@goldcountrymedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @Jon_AJNews