Sunday, 14 July 2024

Judge dismisses theft, elder abuse case against Poindexter

LAKEPORT – A judge ruled Thursday that a case charging a California Highway Patrol sergeant with felony theft and elder abuse lacked sufficient evidence for prosecution.

Lake County Superior Court Judge Arthur Mann concluded that Timothy Poindexter of Kelseyville couldn't be held to answer for the case based on the evidence against him, according to statements from the District Attorney's Office and Poindexter's defense team.

“Obviously, we're very happy,” said Judy Conard, one of Poindexter's attorneys in the case.

Poindexter's lead attorney, Jamie Thistlethwaite of Santa Rosa, couldn't be reached late Thursday for comment.

The ruling followed a preliminary hearing that stretched across several days, said Deputy District Attorney Joyce Campbell.

The District Attorney's Office charged Poindexter, 48, last June, alleging that between October 2004 and June 2007 he had taken advantage of an elderly Finley couple during a real estate transaction.

Poindexter pleaded not guilty to the charges in a June 8, 2007 court appearance, as Lake County News has reported.

“The primary question was whether or not the defendant had tricked the elderly victim out of some farming equipment by saying it went along with real estate that was sold,” said Campbell.

Poindexter purchased an 18.7-acre property with a pear orchard on Finley Road East from the couple, paying $300,000, according to court documents obtained by Lake County News. Escrow on the property closed in 2005.

No Realtor was involved in the sale, according to the investigation, with Poindexter taking care of the paperwork.

Campbell said Thursday that a paragraph of the real estate contract added farm equipment valued at more than $25,000 that the couple said they had not originally agreed to include in the property sale.

The older man who sold Poindexter the property was adamant that he had not filled in the portion of the contract for the farm equipment, said Campbell. She added that the disputed paragraph had a handwritten alteration, which only was initialed by Poindexter and not the elderly seller.

In addition, the escrow officer testified in court that it was clear to her that the equipment was not included, Campbell said.

The case also had alleged that Poindexter had gained the older man's trust by visiting his home while in uniform, and while driving his CHP patrol car. “The elderly victim was indeed very impressed with him and there developed a relationship of trust,” said Campbell.

The investigative documents revealed that the men had gotten along at first, with Poindexter agreeing to allow the couple to store some of their belongings and equipment there. However, the older man alleged that his access to his belongings was blocked by Poindexter, who stacked his own property around those items.

Later, the men engaged attorneys who exchanged numerous letters either demanding the elderly couples' access to their belongings or that the couple refrain from returning to Poindexter's property.

Conard said Mann, who took an hour to finalize his ruling following the end of testimony in the hearing, provided a “very thorough” decision on the matter.

“Mr. Poindexter had a reasonable belief that the property in question does in fact belong to him,” she said, and it was a point with which she said Mann agreed.

What should be stressed, Conard added, is that Poindexter did not abuse his power in any way. “He has a claim to title.”

The case was a complex one, said Campbell, with many critical aspects to it.

She said that the elderly male victim – now in his 90s, and a World War II veteran – was “rock solid” as a witness, but on the stand he was forgetful of some details, which she suggested influenced the case's outcome.

Issues of memory and forgetfulness make elder financial abuse cases especially difficult to handle, said Campbell, who is retired but works on a part-time basis with the District Attorney's Office on cases involving seniors.

Keeping that in mind, Campbell said prosecutors work hard to make sure they can corroborate all the evidence in elder abuse cases. They thought they had done so in this case as well, she added.

Conard stated that the case ultimately should have been taken up in civil – not criminal – proceedings.

The case's turn in criminal court isn't entirely over, however.

“It is a felony so our office does have the option to refile if we feel it's the right thing to do,” said Campbell.

She added that the District Attorney's Office has not yet made a decision on whether it will pursue the case further.

Meanwhile, Poindexter's future in the CHP is still not clear.

After he was charged, the CHP placed Poindexter, a 26-year CHP veteran, on administrative leave, the CHP reported.

That's where Poindexter remains today, Fran Clader, a spokesperson for CHP's Sacramento headquarters, said Thursday. “His current status is, he's on administrative time off.”

Clader said Poindexter will remain on administrative leave “pending the completion of an internal investigation” by CHP.

She could not comment on whether Poindexter was seeking reinstatement.

Clader added that, because of the Peace Officer Bill of Rights, the CHP can't share the eventual outcome of that internal investigation.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Upcoming Calendar

07.16.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
07.17.2024 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm
Free veterans dinner
07.20.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
07.23.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
07.27.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
07.30.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
08.03.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
08.06.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
08.10.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
08.13.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park

Mini Calendar



Award winning journalism on the shores of Clear Lake. 



Enter your email here to make sure you get the daily headlines.

You'll receive one daily headline email and breaking news alerts.
No spam.