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October 14, 2013
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Gold Country hearing postponed


A hearing scheduled for Oct. 18 to set the date for the fraud trial for Gold Country Lenders CEO Phil Lester and Chief Financial Officer Susan Laferte has been postponed to Nov. 7.

It’s the latest in a series of delays in the complex case, which has been under way since the duo were arrested in September 2012.

Lester and Laferte were indicted in mid-January by a criminal grand jury for allegedly defrauding investors of millions of dollars over a period of eight years.

They face 61 counts each — one count of using a scheme to defraud, 50 counts of offering securities for sale by means of an untrue statement or omission of a material fact and 10 counts of fraud from an elder adult.

Lester’s first court-appointed counsel, former Nevada County Deputy District Attorney Ken Tribby, resigned in July. Nevada County Superior Court Judge Candace Heidelberger subsequently appointed El Dorado Hills attorney Mary Beth Acton to replace Tribby; Laferte continues to be represented by Greg Klein.

Earlier this year, Heidelberger found good cause to postpone the trial, which had been set to start Sept. 17.

She has indicated that she wants to set a new trial date for Feb. 25.

Laferte’s attorney, Greg Klein, requested a continuance on the hearing to firm up the trial date, which was granted Thursday. Heidelberger reiterated her desire to see that set in mid-February, however.

Monk sentenced in jail flight case

A woman who had been on the lam for more than a year after failing to return from a jail day pass was sentenced to two years and eight months in Nevada County Superior Court on Sept. 23.

Elizabeth Ann Monk had been serving a jail sentence after being convicted of multiple charges involving elderly victims but had been a fugitive from Wayne Brown Correctional Facility since November 2011. She was arrested in February of this year after a traffic stop in Dooly County, Georgia.

Monk had taken a plea agreement in October 2011 after being charged in three separate cases involving writing bad checks.

In the first case, Monk was charged with one count of passing a check with insufficient funds after writing a check for nearly $2,000 to a local woman and one count of forgery in connection with a check written to Washington Mutual Bank. On the second case, she was charged with forgery, elder theft and writing a check with insufficient funds. The third case, filed less than a month later, charged her with one count of writing a check with insufficient funds.

Nevada County Deputy District Attorney Oliver Pong said Monk’s pattern was to gain her victims’ trust, write checks and abscond with the money.

Monk eventually agreed to plead no contest to one count of writing checks with insufficient funds in each of the three cases. She was given a suspended sentence and three years probation and was to serve 249 days in county jail.

On Nov. 10, 2011, Monk requested a day pass from jail, which was granted. She never returned.

After her arrest in Georgia, Monk was extradited back to Nevada County and charged with escape from custody.

Monk pleaded no contest to the charge and was sentenced to two years; she also was sentenced to a consecutive eight months on her prior conviction of writing insufficient funds and received 418 days credit.

To contact City Editor Liz Kellar, email lkellar@theunion.com or call 530-477-4229.


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The Union Updated Oct 14, 2013 06:40AM Published Oct 14, 2013 12:22AM Copyright 2013 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.