Gold Country defendant avoids custody |

Gold Country defendant avoids custody

Gold Country Lenders Chief Financial Officer Susan Laferte will be able to use part of an IRA that previously had been frozen by a judge to pay her bail bond.

Chief Executive Officer Phil Lester and Laferte were arrested in September 2012 and then 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 each face 61 counts — 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.

The duo’s original bail bond — $150,000 they each posted after their arrest in 2012 — expired after one year. Earlier this month, Superior Court Judge Candace Heidelberger ruled against a request to release them on their own recognizance but reduced bail to $75,000.

Heidelberger had instructed Lester and Laferte to post new bail bonds or surrender by Nov. 22.

But on Thursday, Laferte’s attorney, Greg Klein, successfully filed a motion to release funds — $7,000 plus taxes — so that Laferte could avoid being placed back in custody.

California Deputy Attorney General Maggy Krell had opposed the motion, arguing that the $40,000 IRA had been frozen in case of potential restitution to the alleged victims in the case.

Klein retorted that the right to a fair trial trumped restitutory rights, telling Heidelberger he would not be able to handle representing Laferte should she be remanded into custody.

He further noted that the amount being requested, and the funds that had been frozen, were a small percentage of the millions of dollars potentially being claimed as restitution.

Heidelberger agreed, saying that as of Thursday, the bail bonds for both defendants remained valid.

Jury selection for the trial remained set for May 6.

To contact City Editor Liz Kellar, email or call 530-477-4229.

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