Michael Theodore Pines' Psychiatric Evaluation Gets in Way of Criminal Sentencing for Attorney Who Claims Home Foreclosures are Illegal
San Diego attorney Michael Theodore Pines was supposed to be sentenced Friday for the conviction based on the bad advice he gave to an elderly man who broke into his foreclosed Newport Coast home--in front of the media and arresting police officers. But Pines now has to wait until Dec. 16 to learn his fate. An Orange County judge on Friday agreed to delay sentencing until then because Pines was undergoing a psychiatric evaluation prompted by a San Diego County Superior Court judge questioning the attorney's mental competency.
In October 2010, Pines summoned the local press and informed police as his client Rene Hector Zepeda broke into the five-bedroom, 4,400-square-foot home the 73-year-old had lost to foreclosure 16 months earlier. Pines had told clients in Orange and San Diego counties that bank foreclosures were illegal.
But it was Pines and Zepeda who found themselves in hot water. In August, Zepeda pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor count of trespassing and was ordered to pay $435 in restitution and to testify truthfully at the jury trial for 60-year-old Pines. A jury on Sept. 1 convicted the attorney on one misdemeanor count each of vandalism, attempted second degree burglary, the attempted unauthorized entry of a dwelling, and obstructing an officer.
Pines was looking at the possibility of three years in jail and $10,000 in fines at his sentencing hearing at Harbor Justice Center in Newport Beach Friday. Meanwhile, he's also up on a felony charge of practicing law without a license in San Diego County. Despite his law license being temporarily suspended because state bar officials viewed him as a threat to the public, Pines is accused of continuing to advise clients to ignore foreclosures. That's what prompted the judge down south to order the mental competency tests.
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