Lyza Johnsen, a process server with the San Luis Obispo-based Johnsen & Johnsen Legal Support Services, was taken into custody on Oct. 20 during an appearance at SLO County Superior Court.
Facing three felony charges and one misdemeanor ranging from writing bad checks to grand theft, Johnsen was originally scheduled for an arraignment. But on Oct. 19, the District Attorney’s Office filed another felony charge claiming that Johnsen wrote another bad check just days before her court appearance.
Deputy District Attorney Matt Kerrigan asked Judge Michael Duffy to sign an arrest warrant for the latest case before Johnsen was arraigned on her other felony charges. According to Kerrigan, Johnsen wrote a check for about $1,500, using an account that was closed after she allegedly wrote about $50,000 in bad checks, for which she is now facing felony charges.
“Frankly, for me, this is certainly the straw that breaks the camel’s back,” Kerrigan said.
Johnsen’s public defender, Ron Crawford, said he just learned of the new charge that morning, but Johnsen told him she made a simple mistake in writing the check.
“In the hustle and bustle of trying to run her business, she just grabbed the wrong check and gave it to this young lady,” Crawford said.
Duffy ultimately sided with Kerrigan. A bailiff cuffed Johnsen and led her to a seat, where she remained stone-faced and silent through the proceedings.
Duffy scheduled a trial for Dec. 14 for the felony charges. Johnsen faces another felony case in Santa Barbara County, with a court date scheduled for Oct. 21 in Santa Maria.