The restitution hearing for Peter David Nitschke sounds like it was wild. The 47-year-old suspended Newport Beach attorney and former church president–who stole more than $780,000 from nine victims, with $720,000 of that coming from two elderly sisters he met at church–reportedly lashed out at the prosecutor, his defense attorney and the judge.
Indeed, the outburst reminded me of something …
Orange County Superior Court Judge Gary Paer already sentenced Nitschke to 12 years in state prison, but at a restitution hearing last week the judge offered to cut that term significantly if the thief paid back his victims plus interest, to the tune of $1.2 million.
As Deputy District Attorney Sean O'Brien recounted some of Nitschke's past fraud schemes, the suspended lawyer said angrily, "I object to this. I can go on ad hominem attacks too. Mr. O'Brien is an ass and Ms. Kelly is incompetent."
That would be Stacy Kelly, Nitschke's attorney from the Orange County Public Defender's office. But he was not done there, saying Judge Paer needed to grant more phone time in jail so Nitschke can arrange with a benefactor to provide the $1.2 million for the victims.
It got so heated, observed City News Service's reporter in the courtroom Paul Anderson, that a bailiff positioned himself next to Nitschke.
Paer, explaining he wanted to give the victims one more chance to get their money back, gave Nitschke a "drop dead" Aug. 8 deadline to produce the money.
"I heard from those victims," the judge said. "Their lives got screwed up because of your felonies. They would do anything to get their money back."
Nitschke, whose law office was in Irvine, had wiped out the life savings of the elderly sisters he met as president of Lutheran Church of the Cross in Laguna Woods, where he often solicited clients from the congregation.
Despite Paer extending the deadline, the judge did not sound too confident Nitschke will come through.
"I would be stunned if the money shows up," said the judge, adding "maybe this case can make history."