Last week, Carissa Carpenter was in court trying to fire her lawyer. On Thursday, she’ll be asking him for help in getting out of jail on bail.
Carpenter, the self-described movie studio executive who faces charges of conning investors out of millions of dollars, is making her fourth attempt at bailing out since she was ordered into custody at the Sacramento County jail last August.
This time, Carpenter attorney John Manning says in court papers that she has come up with three backers willing to put up $38,000 for an unsecured bond and arrange for her to live in Los Angeles until her trial, which is scheduled to begin Aug. 6.
Such a release will allow her to be treated by Los Angeles doctors for what Manning has described as a “constellation of medical issues” that include cervical cancer, breast cancer, multiple strokes, multiple blood clots, multiple pacemakers, ovarian cancer and colitis.
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“Stabilizing Ms. Carpenter’s health is critically important in light of the physically and emotionally grueling ordeal of jury trial awaiting Ms. Carpenter in August of this year,” Manning wrote in requesting a review in federal court Thursday of her detention order. “Thus far, the ability to stabilize Ms. Carpenter’s health has eluded the various facilities wherein Ms. Carpenter has been housed.”
Prosecutors call her health concerns “a facade” and say officials with the U.S. Marshals Service and the county jail “have gone above and beyond in response to her claims of near death or other infirmities.”
“She has and will continue to receive adequate medical care while in custody,” Assistant U.S. Attorneys Todd Pickles and Rosanne Rust wrote in a court filing opposing her release.
The prosecutors also noted that she has tried to replace Manning twice (her latest effort last Friday was denied), talked of representing herself at trial and sought a bail review three previous times.
“The fourth time is not a charm,” they wrote, arguing that her “continued efforts to manipulate the system” demonstrate that she “will do whatever she wants whenever she wants.”
Carpenter, who spent 17 years peddling her dream of building a massive movie studio project in various Northern California locations or in South Carolina, is accused of siphoning off more than $5 million from investors without ever breaking ground on a project or purchasing any land for it.
Her last effort focused on building a $2.8 billion studio in the Solano County farm town of Dixon, 25 miles west of Sacramento.
During her efforts, Carpenter, 54, managed to insinuate herself over the years with prominent developers, attorneys and Hollywood types and bragged of knowing “Star Wars” creator George Lucas on a first-name basis. His office has said Lucas knew nothing about her Dixon project.
The Dixon effort collapsed in the wake of a 2013 Sacramento Bee investigation that found she had a history of not paying creditors, owned no property and had once described herself to a Sacramento sheriff’s detective as “homeless.”
Records show she amassed more than $1 million in various unpaid court-ordered judgments over bounced rent checks, a bill from a Beverly Hills dentist and an unpaid veterinary bill for the care of two horses she owned.
The Bee investigation led to her indictment by a federal grand jury in October 2014 on 32 counts of fraud and lying to the FBI.
Initially, she was allowed to remain free on bail, but was ordered into custody last year after authorities said she had traveled across the country and moved without permission from pretrial services officials on a journey that U.S. Magistrate Judge Kendall J. Newman described as a “traveling road show.”
Carpenter has frequently blamed her health issues for her financial woes and her failure to appear for past court hearings in California and Utah.
In hearings for her pending fraud case, she has fainted once, appeared in court in a wheelchair and bemoaned her fate in jail.
“I’m going to be dead...,” she said during a December hearing. “They don’t care.”