A 49-year-old Palm Desert woman pleaded not guilty today to charges she took thousands of dollars from dozens of business owners for table-top advertising and then never delivered.
Theresa Marie Darrah, who most recently went by the name Reese Stacey, faces 18 counts of grand theft, 18 counts of second-degree burglary, five counts of first-degree burglary, and one misdemeanor charge each of petty theft and possessing a fake identification for the purpose of committing forgery.
She remained in custody Friday on $1 million bail at the Riverside County jail in Indio.
The allegations date back to at least 2011, when prosecutors say Darrah, doing business as DMT Sales, told business owners across the Coachella Valley that she would put their ads on tabletops at popular local restaurants, like Beer Hunter and Mario’s.
In many cases, Darrah would accept post-dated checks from business owners who couldn’t afford the full cost up front, then immediately cash the checks, investigators alleged in court records.
The victims, which number nearly 40, claim they never received the advertising they were promised.
In fact, investigators said, interviews found that Darrah had not worked with Beer Hunter and Mario’s in many years, but that she continued to use their names to induce new clients to buy advertising.
Most recently Darrah sold advertising in a local publication called Desert Cities Modern Woman.
During a hearing today at the Indio Lawrence Justice Center, Darrah, dressed in a baby blue jail-issued jumpsuit, was assigned a lawyer from the Riverside County Public Defender’s office but told the court she hoped to retain a private attorney at some point in the future.
Judge Victoria Cameron refused to reduce her bail, citing the mutiple felony counts and numerous victims.
Darrah is scheduled to appear in court again Jan. 21, when her deputy public defender said he plans to again seek a lower bond during a formal bail hearing.
Prosecutor Homan Hosseinioun told the court that even if Darrah wins the bail hearing, prosecutors will want to carefully examine the source of the funds.
”We don’t want her using feloniously obtained money to pay her bail,” he said.