Delecia Holt, the 48-year-old Aliso Viejo Republican who ran three times for Congress in Orange and San Diego counties, was released from the jail she's been sitting in since her Oct. 7, 2008, arrest for defrauding Orange County hotels and stealing a Mercedes Benz from a local car dealership.
Holt was found guilty by an Orange County Superior Court jury in December of seven felony counts of writing non-sufficient fund checks, one felony count of grand theft and one felony count of defrauding an innkeeper by non-payment. She could have got up to eight years and four months in state prison at today's sentencing, but in addition to the jail time already served, she was placed on five years probation and ordered to pay $40,700 in restitution.
Since Holt could not make the bail that would have allowed her to remain free pending her conviction, it makes you wonder how she'll come up with the forty grand. Maybe she can run for another congressional seat to raise the restitution.
Holt, who said at a Republican women's luncheon while seeking the seat Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-San Diego) abandoned in 2006 as he headed to prison on bribery charges, "Ethics reform begins with me,"
A year before the race for Cunningham's former seat, Holt ran as a Republican in the special election to replace Rep. Christopher Cox (R-Newport Beach), who left Congress in 2005 to chair the Securities and Exchange Commission. 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 race for the Cunningham seat: 261 votes or 0.2 percent of those cast. Republican Brian Bilbray ultimately won the seat in a runoff. She ran as a write-in candidate for another San Diego County congressional seat in 2008, but dropped out after claiming to have raised more than $200,000.
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. "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 conviction against Holt. Wisckol reports that federal elections officials are now investigating Holt's campaign fund-raising.
Besides being a "Republican with a heart," Holt's bio identified her as an author, businesswoman, philanthropist, sociologist-researcher and intelligence security analyst. Turns out she was much more than that. According to the Orange County District Attorney's Office:
In July 2005, Holt went to a Mercedes Benz dealership in Orange County and wrote a bad check for just under $13,000 as a down payment for a $32,000 car. She left the dealer lot in the car and never made 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.
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Between July 2007 and September 2007, Holt defrauded the Comfort Suites in Lake Forest out of $5,000. She lived at the Comfort Suites and wrote two separate checks with insufficient funds over the course of three months. She then fled the hotel after failing to make any legitimate payments for her bill.
In October 2007, Holt hosted 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 wrote a check for $15,000 to the hotel from a personal account to cover the cost of the event. She wrote another check to the four comedians totaling $2,000. She intentionally wrote the checks knowing her account had insufficient funds. The checks were declined when the victims attempted to deposit them.
During the trial, Holt testified that she was unable to cover her checks due to costs associated with deaths and illnesses in her family, despite having never mentioned any hardship to investigators when initially interviewed about this case. Deputy District Attorney Marc Labreche of the Major Fraud Unit presented evidence that Holt bounced 90 checks in an 18-month period from one bank account. From a separate account, Holt bounced all 18 checks she wrote and never wrote one legitimate check from the account.
During the trial's closing arguments, Holt's own lawyer, Fred McBride, did not deny his client had defrauded her victims, calling her behavior "bizarre" and asking jurors to try to look more deeply into the mind of his client.