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Private investigator Craig Case is arrested outside of Santa Barbara Superior Court as multiple charges mount

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -A criminal arrest warrant has been served on long time Santa Barbara private investigator Craig Case relating to embezzlement allegations.

Case was outside of Santa Barbara Superior Court at the time. He had just appeared on unrelated charges that appear to send his business Case Detective Agency into the hands of someone else while felony forgery and other related identity charges are resolved.

Senior Deputy District Attorney Brian Cota is handling all the court action against Case.

Tuesday morning Case appeared at a hearing to modify his supervised release in the forgery case. The State Attorney General's Office appeared and asked Judge Kathleen Diesman to restrict Case from his job as a private patrol operator and a private investigator.

Cota said, "that would include him not being able to act  as a private security officer or private investigator, it wasn't a revocation of a license to do so. He currently has a license for both of those things."

The argument by Cota was that as a private investigator and security business operator Case would have access and keys to multiple properties at all hours at a time when he is facing felony charges.

"They handle security codes, they handle keys, they watch businesses they are there late night when no one else is, so it is very important that people running those businesses don't have criminal convictions or any allegations such as this," he said.

Supervising Deputy Attorney General Matthew Beasley from Los Angeles also appeared in court and said the California Business and Professions code does not allow for a transfer of the business to another person with a background check.

Judge Diesman gave Case until July 17 to relinquish the supervision of his business to another person and showed a concern for the employees who would be out of work if a stronger penalty against Case at the time had been issued.

Attorney Josh Lynn represented Case and said Case did not pose a risk to the public. He also said if Case could not run his business he could not afford the basic cost of living or legal representation.

"And the idea is to try and save the business while this is being resolved and put it in good hands and safe hands and do all the right things," he said.

Case is also a TV personality who appeared with privately purchase airtime for his show called the Inn Crowd which aired on weekend evenings on KEYT. It featured prominent chefs, winemakers, cooking demonstrations and food tastings.

Case was also involved in prominent roles with the Santa Barbara Police Foundation, United Boys & Girls Club and other key positions in the community. He was well connected to law enforcement agencies in many ways and appeared in front of the Santa Barbara City Council several times with donations to assist the police department with gear that was not budgeted.

When he was stopped by a patrol officer for having expired registration on his vehicle, Santa Barbara Police Detective Sonja Crawford testified in a prior court appearance that Case said he did not have any weapons in his vehicle. A police search discovered a loaded gun. Court records show that Case said he forgot it was there.

Case had a "concealed carry permit" with him issued by the Santa Barbara Sheriff's Department. Police later said it had been altered. Cota said one of the two signatures on the card was a forged version of Sheriff Bill Brown.

The felony charges involve identity theft, identifying information theft, offering false evidence, and preparing false documentary evidence. The charge of carrying a loaded handgun on one's person or in a vehicle - not registered, is a misdemeanor. A previous request to drop two of the charges down to misdemeanors was denied by Judge MIchael Carrozzo.

The criminal arrest Tuesday at Superior Court is related to what has already been a civil case where $687,500 was allegedly embezzled from a 94-year old Montecito resident between October 2018 and April 2021.

That was reported to be done over time and through an estate executor who was making short term loans to Case but ceased when they were not paid back.

Outside the courthouse, Case was not placed in handcuffs and agreed to cooperate with investigators with the District Attorney's office to walk a block away to their office to handle the matter.

Cota said bail would be set at $200,000. A hearing on how that might be paid is expected this week, but Case would be in jail until then. That hearing would verify the source of the money and it has to be approved by the court.

Lynn is currently only representing Case on the forgery charges and said he had not been retained as the attorney in the new case.

Case has had several lawsuits over money and business issues. This includes other unpaid loans and an $80,000 class-action suit by employees for labor law violations which relate to unpaid overtime and unpaid business expenses.

Case is expected to be in court Thursday July 13 on the most recent money charges and a bail hearing. His court appearance is set for 8:30 a.m. Additional details on the widespread criminal acts involved as presented by the District Attorney will be presented.

He is back in court July 31 on the forgery charges.

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John Palminteri

John Palminteri is senior reporter for KEYT News Channel 3-12. To learn more about John, click here.


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