June 27, 2011 — Defense attorney Joe Allen fills out paperwork for client Denise D'Sant Angelo who requested a new lawyer from the public defender's office
Paul Wellman

Nun scammer Denise D’Sant Angelo, awaiting sentencing from her second trial in which she was found guilty of 12 felony counts in connection with money she took from an elderly couple whose home was going into foreclosure, fired her legal counsel Monday morning and will now be looking to the public defender’s office for representation.

If the move sounds familiar, it’s because she did the exact same thing just over a year ago, except then she had fired her public defender to go to Joe Allen. After she was found guilty of embezzling money intended to help a group Santa Barbara nuns, D’Sant Angelo terminated her representation by the public defender’s office and went to Allen. “This is exactly what Ms. D’Sant Angelo did last time,” said prosecutor Brian Cota. She was sentenced to a two-year prison term, a sentence she served mostly in County Jail awaiting trial in the most recent case.

D’Sant Angelo also tried to get rid of Allen as her counsel the day before her second trial began, but Judge Frank Ochoa denied the motion. A new attorney would’ve kicked the trial months down the road, and because witnesses were lined up and the victims were elders, the case continued as planned.

She was convicted in May of six counts of felony financial elder abuse, six counts of felony grand theft, and one count of misdemeanor unlawful practice of law for swindling a couple after convincing them she could help them save their home. She faces a maximum of 11 years in state prison, a term recommended by the Probation Department.

Monday morning, Ochoa’s hands were a little more tied in dealing with D’Sant Angelo’s request, as a judge is limited in his or her ability to limit a person’s right to choose their own counsel, even if just for sentencing. Cota said he was okay with a short delay, but that he would object to any continuations beyond that. “There’s a pattern here where she’s just trying to delay justice,” Cota said.

Senior Deputy Public Defender Jeff Chambliss, who represented D’Sant Angelo during the first trial, was in court Monday and said that, after a quick review of D’Sant Angelo’s application to be represented by the public defender’s office, she appeared to qualify. But D’Sant Angelo made it clear she was not interested in being represented by Chambliss this time.

D’Sant Angelo’s new court date is July 18.


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