A 72-year-old man and his attorney, who has been declared ineligible to practice law, pleaded not guilty Tuesday in connection with breaking into the man's foreclosed Newport Beach home.
Attorney Michael Theodore Pines of San Diego, who has been accused of encouraging others to break into their homes as an act of civil disobedience to protest foreclosure laws, and Rene Hector Zepeda pleaded not guilty to vandalism, second-degree burglary and unlawful entry of a residence, all misdemeanors, according to court records.
Pines also faces a misdemeanor count of resisting and obstructing an officer, according to court records.
Zepeda lost his home at 19 Coral Clay in Newport Coast in July 2009, according to prosecutors.
Instead of trying to fight the foreclosure in the courts, Pines advised Zepeda it was illegal and told him to break in and repossess his home, according to the District Attorney's Office.
Pines alerted reporters and a real estate agent hired by the bank as a trustee that he and Zepeda would try to break into the home Oct. 13, 2010, according to prosecutors.
The real estate agent called Newport Beach police, who arrested the two for trying to get into the house, prosecutors said.
Pines' law license was suspended this month and he faces charges in unrelated cases in Ventura and San Diego counties.
In The California State Bar's ruling suspending Pines' law license, Richard Honn, a judge of the State Bar Court, said: "In respondent's view, seemingly everyone associated with the present foreclosure matters, including the banks, the police, title companies, real estate agents, and even the Office of the Chief Trial Counsel of the State Bar of California, is involved in criminal conduct.
"He views himself, on the other hand, as a modern-day Henry David Thoreau, who encouraged civil disobedience to effect universal societal benefits, including ending slavery and war. But respondent is not Thoreau, and his cause is not slavery or war. Respondent sought a few minutes of fame in front of reporters or the television cameras while he violated the law, or encouraged his clients to do so.''
Pines and Zepeda are next scheduled to appear in court June 20.
— City News Service