Former Merced court worker sentenced to 270 days jail

A former court investigator received about a nine-month jail sentence and was ordered to repay the more than $18,000 she stole from the Merced County Superior Court.

Michelle C. Pomicpic, 41, was sentenced Friday by visiting Judge Donald E. Shaver to serve 270 days in the Merced County jail and to spend three years on probation. She was also ordered to repay the court the $18,285 that was taken under false pretenses, according to records filed in the Merced Court Clerk’s Office.

Should Pomicpic violate her probation, she could face more than four years behind bars, according to the Mariposa County District Attorney’s Office. Mariposa prosecutors handled the case against Pomicpic because of her connections to the court and prosecutors in Merced County.

Efforts to reach Mariposa prosecutors and defense attorney Michael Fagalde were unsuccessful.

Pomicpic pleaded no contest July 15 to three felony counts of theft by false pretenses. Investigators said Pomicpic billed the court for thousands of dollars of work she never performed during her time as a contract investigator. Pomicpic submitted invoices for interviews she never conducted. Several of the people whom Pomicpic claimed to have interviewed were already dead at the time Pomicpic claimed to have interviewed them, according to court records.

Investigators said the false billings happened between March 2010 and January 2011.

Pomicpic worked for the Merced Superior Court as a contract investigator from May 2000 until August 2007. She was a full-time employee with benefits from August 2007 until February 2010. She also worked as a contract employee from February 2010 until December 2010. The court refused to renew Pomicpic’s contract in January 2011 after the discrepancies were found, according to a Merced County Sheriff’s Department report.

Pomicpic, who has no prior criminal record, may be eligible for an alternative sentencing, such as a work-release or house-arrest program, after the judge indicated no objections. Pomicpic was ordered to report to jail Sept. 14 to determine exactly where and how she will serve her sentence.

Alternative sentences have increased in Merced County since the passage in 2011 of the State Prison Realignment Act, also known as Assembly Bill 109, which transferred responsibility for nonviolent, nonsexual offenders from the state to the county, causing a rise in county jail populations across California. Judges have given county sheriffs considerable latitude to manage jail-population capacity, officials have said previously.