Private Investigator Craig Case Charged with Forging Gun Permit

Santa Barbara Police Say He Produced a Doctored Concealed Carry License When Confronted About a Loaded Firearm in His Trunk

Craig A. Case | Credit: Courtesy

Santa Barbara’s highest-profile private investigator, Craig A. Case, already mired in a civil lawsuit for allegedly defrauding an elderly Montecito resident out of nearly $700,000, has now been criminally charged in an unrelated matter for reportedly producing to police a forged Concealed Carry Weapon (CCW) license when confronted about a loaded handgun in the trunk of his car.

Case, 75, has been charged with four felonies and a misdemeanor, including a firearm violation and two counts of preparing and offering false evidence. His arraignment is scheduled for May 24. He did not respond to a request for comment. His attorney, Josh Lynn, said Case would plead not guilty at the upcoming hearing. “We’re trying to figure out exactly where the mistake was and rectify it,” he said.

According to city police records, Case was driving on Anacapa Street just after noon on October 21, 2021, when he was pulled over for an expired registration tag. Because the tag was more than a year out of date, the officer ordered his car be searched and towed. During the search, “a firearm was located for which the vehicle driver, Craig Alan Case, presented an expired and altered CCW permit,” the report says.

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Since Case had allegedly reproduced the signature of the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office official who originally approved his CCW permit ― a “P. Libera,” according to the criminal complaint filed last month ― he was also charged with felony identity theft. The permit expired in 2018, and P. Libera no longer works for the department.

An outsized figure in local law enforcement and food and wine circles ― having served on Santa Barbara Police Foundation’s board of directors for many years until last September, and hosting a series of self-produced television shows about Santa Barbara viticulture and fine dining ― Case has been successfully sued no fewer than 26 times since 1978 by former clients, employees, and lenders. He received his private investigator license from the state in 1979, which remains active.

The alleged victim in his latest pending lawsuit is 97-year-old Constance McCormick Fearing, an arts patron and Montecito resident. The amount in question totals $687,500. A trial date is scheduled for early 2023.

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