Interior designers are in a position of financial trust and CCIDC encourages
consumers to research and verify the qualifications of the interior designer they are about to hire.
The San Diego Union Tribune
reported on a non-certified interior designer’s illegal activities and the unfortunate results that ensued for the client. CCIDC has permission to reprint this article.
“Woman pleads guilty, gets 9 years in prison for interior design fraud”.
by Dana Littlefield
UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER
September 18, 2004
VISTA - A Carlsbad woman accused of illegally operating an interior design business
known as Designing Divas has pleaded guilty to 10 felony charges and agreed to a nine-year prison sentence.
Michele Anne Pease, 44, who also is known as Pease-Downey, pleaded guilty to
theft by false pretenses and diversion of construction funds in connection with her involvement in the design business. She entered the pleas Thursday just as her Superior Court trial was set to begin.
She also pleaded guilty to identity theft and seven counts of burglary stemming from incidents at a Carlsbad clothing store where she illegally purchased items using
another customer's credit card information.
More than 90 other felony and misdemeanor charges against Pease were dropped in exchange for the guilty pleas.
Pease will probably be sentenced to nine years in prison at a hearing set for Nov. 17, when attorneys also will discuss restitution, said prosecutor Deborah Thomas.
Thomas argued in court proceedings that Pease and a former business partner, Debra Allen, entered into interior design contracts with clients and then either didn't
finish the work or their subcontractor performed work their clients believed was substandard. Thomas said Pease and Allen were essentially acting as contractors even though they weren't licensed.
On June 16, Allen pleaded guilty to a felony charge of theft by false pretenses and a misdemeanor charge of contracting without a license. She agreed to cooperate
with prosecutors as part of a plea deal and to testify against Pease at trial.
A judge said the felony charge could be reduced to a misdemeanor at Allen's
sentencing hearing scheduled Sept. 29 if she cooperated with prosecutors. That agreement still stands, Thomas said yesterday.
About 85 of the charges against Pease dealt with incidents at a Carlsbad boutique where Pease was a frequent customer over the past two years. Prosecutors said
Pease befriended the store manager and gained access to an Indiana customer's credit card information.
Dana Littlefield: (760) 476-8233