Delecia Holt, 48, of Aliso Viejo, ran as a Republican in special elections to replace Rep. Christopher Cox (R-Newport Beach), who left Congress in 2005 to chair the Securities and Exchange Commission, and Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-San Diego), who left Congress in 2006 for prison after pleading guilty to accepting $2.4 million in bribes. Holt launched a campaign to run in another San Diego congressional district last year.
"Ethics reform begins with me," she told attendees of a Rancho Bernardo Republican Women's Federated luncheon in March 2006. "I am the only candidate that has pledged not to accept a salary for the first year of service while in Congress."
But the "Republican with a heart," whose bio further identified her as an author, businesswoman, philanthropist, sociologist-researcher and intelligence security analyst, is in a Santa Ana courthouse this morning fighting accusations that she wrote bad checks, stole a Mercedes Benz from a local car dealership and defrauded Orange County hotels, four comedians and a telephone company.
Online financial contribution records indicate Holt's campaign raised $300,000, with more than $87,000 coming from the candidate herself, in the 2005 race. She got 110 votes, or 0.1 percent of those cast. She doubled those numbers in her April 2006 campaign to serve out the remaining seven months left in Cunningham term, garnering 261 votes or 0.2 percent of those cast. Unfortunately for Holt, 15 other candidates got more votes than that, including Brian Bilbray, the Republican who would ultimately win the seat in a runoff.
Orange County Register politics reporter Martin Wisckol conducted an extensive investigation of Holt's fund-raising claims in her final campaign and discovered major irregularities. "Before dropping out of the San Diego race, she claimed to have raised more than $200,000 for the 2008 race--although not a single one of the 217 listed campaign contributions listed on her federal disclosures could be verified when the Orange County Register sought to contact her listed donors," wrote Wisckol, whose snooping sparked a District Attorney's office probe that led to the charges against Holt.
Wisckol wrote last week that Holt has been in jail since her October 2008 arrest, unable to raise the $56,000 bond.
Opening statements begin this morning in the trial that finds Holt charged with nine felony counts of writing non-sufficient fund checks, one felony count each of grand theft, perjury by declaration, unlawful taking of a vehicle, defrauding an innkeeper by non-payment, aid by misrepresentation, and defrauding a telephone company. She faces sentencing enhancements for property damage over $50,000. If convicted on all counts, she could get 11 years and eight months in state prison. The case the DA has built follows:
July 2005: Holt is accused of going to a Mercedes Benz dealership in Orange County and writing a bad check for just under $13,000 as a down payment for a $32,000 car. She is accused of leaving the dealer lot in the car and never making any legitimate payments for the vehicle. Holt's account, from which the $13,000 down payment check was written, had insufficient funds and the dealership never received any monthly payments.
July-September 2007: Holt is accused of defrauding the Comfort Suites in Lake Forest out of $5,000. She is accused of living at the Comfort Suites and writing three separate checks with insufficient funds over the course of three months. She is accused of fleeing the hotel after failing to make any legitimate payments for her bill.
August 2007: Holt is accused of committing perjury by intentionally deceiving the Orange County Social Services Agency by lying on a welfare document and failing to disclose that she had received income in the form of child support. She is accused of committing welfare fraud by accepting approximately $900 in welfare funds for which she was ineligible.
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October 2007: Holt is accused of hosting a comedy night fundraiser at a Dana Point hotel under the pretense of raising money for Habitat for Humanity. The failed event did not raise any money. Holt is accused of writing a check for $15,000 to the hotel from a personal account to cover the cost of the event. She is accused of writing a check to the four comedians totaling $2,000. She is accused of intentionally writing the checks knowing her account had insufficient funds. The checks were declined when the victims attempted to deposit them. She is accused of failing to pay the photographer and videographer.
December 2007-November 2008: Holt is accused of opening multiple phone line accounts through the Sprint telephone company. She is accused of failing to make any payments on the more than $5,400 bills for those phone lines.
April 2008: Holt is accused of writing a $3,000 check to Regal Entertainment Group as payment for advertisements they ran for her realty business in movie theaters prior to the beginning of movies. She is accused of having insufficient funds and her check was declined. She is accused of failing to make a legitimate payment to Regal Entertainment Group.
In his latest piece, Wiskol explains why it has taken more than a year for the case against Holt to open. She's apparently burned through four court-appointed attorneys, with a judge last week denying her attempt to replace her fifth and current lawyer. Delays have also been blamed on psychological examinations to determine whether Holt is mentally capable to stand trial, Wisckol reports.