VISTA — An Encinitas woman was back in court Sept. 23 and entered a not-guilty plea against reinstated charges that she stole more than $1 million in fixtures from a repossessed Olivenhain mansion she had big dreams for.
Charges of grand theft and felony vandalism are facing Suzy Brown, 45, after the same charges were dropped in July due to a technicality.
After her plea, Brown was scheduled to return to the Vista courthouse for a Jan. 7 readiness hearing with Judge Marshall Hockett.
A preliminary hearing was set for Feb. 8.
“The only way to understand this case is through the heart, not the criminal mind,” Brown said to The Coast News at her arraignment.
She said she had loved her house and put a lot of hard work into it, but that her neighbors wanted to destroy its purpose.
Brown bought the $13 million, 16,000-square-foot house in 2006 with the goal of turning it into a luxury rehab center.
Neighbors opposed the idea and fought against the retreat plans, and reports say that Brown stopped making payments on the mortgage in 2007.
She is accused of stealing items such as brass faucets and toilets, an antique door and hand-carved cabinets after the bank took over the massive house.
The bank foreclosed in February 2009, and the items were reported missing on March 26, four days after Brown moved out.
She previously admitted to the theft of the items, which have been returned, according to reports.
She had purchased the home with 60 investors and defaulted due to the lack of business, according to previous reports.
Robert Eacret, a San Diego County district attorney on the case, said charges were refiled in August after originally being on calendar last December.
At Brown’s first arraignment the charges were dismissed because there was not yet an official record of the house being bank-owned.