Dressed in a grey suit and thin-rimmed glasses, Mark Melchiori pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to 47 felony charges including embezzlement, insurance and wage fraud, and diverting construction funds. The 49-year-old former head of Melchiori Construction spoke once to Santa Barbara Superior Court Judge Michael Carrozzo to say he agreed to a preliminary hearing setting on September 6 before Judge Clifford Anderson.
Casey Nelson and Carl Barnes of the county District Attorney’s Office agreed to defense attorney Josh Lynn’s request to appear in court for Melchiori until “crucial moments” in the case. “[My] client lives distinctly out of county,” said Lynn. According to his location on Twitter, Melchiori was living in the San Francisco Bay area as of March 2015. He is currently employed as Executive Vice President of the Morgan Hill-based Corinthian Development Company. On its webpage, the company calls itself “a developer of premiere hospitality, retail, healthcare, and themed entertainment destinations.”
In court on Tuesday, Carrozzo granted prosecuting attorneys access to a sealed envelope with, he said, “what feels like a flash drive inside it” addressed to American Riviera Bank.
The May 30 complaint filed by the DA’s Office includes 15 charges alleging Melchiori diverted more than $350,000 in construction funds received from filmmaker Robert Zemeckis over six years. Melchiori, who faces three special allegations for the amount of money allegedly stolen, is also accused of violating the unemployment insurance code and committing, as well as conspiring to commit, grand theft.
After serving as president of Melchiori Construction after the death of his father, Ugo Melchiori, the company faced multiple lawsuits alleging it didn’t pay creditors or subcontractors on time. In 2012, Mark filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.