The jobless couple who brazenly took over an empty multimillion-dollar, oceanview Newport Coast home, pretended it was theirs and mocked the Newport Beach Police Department have acknowledged criminal conduct in exchange for a sweetheart deal from Orange County's most notorious judge: Robert R. Fitzgerald.
Over the objections of the Orange County district attorney's office, Fitizgerald dismissed the two felony counts each against Christopher Wayne Duncan and his wife, Robin.
I'm not sure what the People got (looks like nothing), but the judge--notorious because he loves to prevent juries from rending verdicts in cases--allowed the couple to plead guilty to two misdemeanor counts at a pretrial hearing today: conspiracy to commit a crime and unlawful entry into a noncommercial dwelling.
And then Fitgerald stood up and threw the book at the Duncans.
Each will have to serve a year in jail and pay a $1,000 fine.
The judge gave them no jail time, no fine and allowed them to walk out of the courthouse with the weakest slap on the wrist available: three years of informal probation.
If prosecutor Pete Pierce had convicted the couple of the felony charges he believes were appropriate, each would have faced up to three years in a California prison.
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Fitzgerald's warped message to the world: Come to Orange County--hell, leap the gates at our most exclusive, oceanfront housing developments--and make yourself at home because the criminal-justice system here won't mind.
Go HERE to read about Judge Fitzgerald.
--R. Scott Moxley / OC Weekly