Crime - Sacto 911

Dixon studio promoter files waiver to skip court hearings in fraud case

Carissa Carpenter faces fraud charges in connection with her efforts to build a movie studio project in Dixon and elsewhere.
Carissa Carpenter faces fraud charges in connection with her efforts to build a movie studio project in Dixon and elsewhere. Sacramento Bee file

Carissa Carpenter, who has demonstrated a pronounced aversion to dealing with the media at her court appearances, has agreed to waive her right to be present in court at future pretrial hearings in the federal fraud case she faces in connection with her efforts to build a movie studio somewhere in Northern California.

Carpenter, 51, was scheduled to return to federal court in Sacramento on July 30 for a hearing on her case, in which she faces charges that she defrauded investors of $5 million during a 17-year quest to build a movie studio. Her most recent pitch was for a $2.8 billion project in Dixon.

But a court filing late Wednesday indicates that Carpenter, who is free on $25,000 bail and living in Southern California, has agreed to let her federal public defender handle future hearings without her presence for now.

Carpenter, who faces up to 20 years in prison, has made only one court appearance since her Oct. 30 indictment, a brief November session during which she pleaded not guilty. She declined to talk to media at that hearing and slipped out of the courthouse, avoiding a photographer.

In an earlier court hearing in Malibu on a case involving charges that she defrauded an innkeeper, Carpenter loudly objected to the presence of a Sacramento Bee reporter and photographer. That case was dismissed.

Her federal fraud case has drawn intense interest from Dixon-area residents, who gathered to see her at her hearing in November. Since then, the case has been postponed twice as her attorneys deal with what court filings say is more than 68,000 pages of evidence.

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