Local private investigator Craig Case was recently charged with more than 50 criminal counts for allegedly stealing more than $600,000 from an elderly woman.
Case, 75, and Nancy Lee Elizabeth Coglizer, 55, of Santa Barbara, face multiple felonies, including conspiracy to commit theft from an elder, theft from an elder or dependent adult, and grand theft of more than $500,000.
Case also has been charged with 44 counts of money laundering and failing to file income tax returns for 2018, 2019 and 2020.
Coglizer held power of attorney for Constance McCormick Fearing, a Santa Barbara-area woman in her 90s, and wrote about 95 checks to Case using Fearing’s bank accounts, according to the criminal complaint.
In October 2018, “Case asked for the money, ostensibly as a loan from Ms. Fearing, but both Case and Coglizer were aware that it was improper for Coglizer to give Ms. Fearing’s money to Case, and that she was breaching the fiduciary duty as power of attorney for Fearing, and committing an embezzlement,” says the complaint filed by the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office.
Between Jan. 3, 2019, and Feb. 21, 2021, Coglizer wrote about 95 more checks to Case, amounting to about $622,500, of Fearing’s money, the complaint alleges.
Many of them had memo lines referring to security gates and consulting, giving the impression that Case was performing services when he wasn’t, the complaint alleges. Case owns Case Detective Agency, which offers private investigations and private security.
Case allegedly cashed 93 of these checks at Wells Fargo bank branches, for $592,500.
The pair were worried about being discovered in April 2021, the District Attorney’s Office alleges, and to “bury the money,” Case wrote and backdated a $5,000-a-month retainer agreement for services he didn’t perform.
The criminal case includes enhancements and special allegations related to the amount of money involved and the victim being “particularly vulnerable.”
Case was in county jail custody as of Monday, with bail set at $250,000, according to Sheriff’s Office records. Coglizer does not appear to be in custody.
Case will be back in court Wednesday for a continued arraignment hearing, according to Superior Court records.
This alleged theft is also the subject of a civil case filed in 2021. David Mokros, the trustee for Fearing’s living trust, sued Coglizer, the former trustee, Case, and Case Detective Agency.
Coglizer later filed a cross-complaint.
Mokros alleges he and Coglizer were co-trustees of Fearing’s living trust starting in 2020, and that Coglizer wrote and signed 103 checks to Case for “gate security and consulting” equal to $687,500 over several years.
Mokros alleges he confronted Coglizer about the payments in mid-2021, and she resigned from power of attorney and her position of co-trustee of the trust.
In October 2022, all parties agreed to put the lawsuit on hold pending the criminal investigation, according to Superior Court records.
Case has another pending criminal case alleging identity theft, forgery, offering false evidence and carrying a loaded firearm on his person/in a vehicle.
He pleaded not guilty to those charges in February.
At a July 11 hearing, the court issued an order prohibiting him from practicing as a private investigator and a private patrol operator pending the final disposition of the criminal case.
KEYT reported that Case was ordered to move his business, Case Detective Agency, “into the hands of someone else while felony forgery and other related identity charges are resolved.”
He is scheduled to be back in Superior Court for that case on July 31.
Case is also known as the host of “The Inn Crowd,” a food and beverage show that aired locally from 2013 to 2016.