By Anna Olsen
ALAMEDA, CA – During a preliminary hearing here in Alameda County Superior Court this week, evidence was presented that a woman’s dog was stolen and used in a $20,000 extortion plot.
Antonyo Deondra Todd faces multiple felony charges of first degree residential burglary, grand theft, grand theft of a dog and attempted extortion.
Carla Anita Archuleta faces charges of receiving stolen property and attempted extortion for her involvement in the plot.
The prosecution argued both Todd and Archuleta were involved in a scheme to extort $20,000 from the victim in exchange for her dog and Todd was the “mastermind” behind the burglary.
“Coco,” Coco’s special dietary food, $1,000 in cash and $10,000 worth of jewelry were allegedly stolen from the victim’s home.
Archuleta testified that on the same day of the burglary, Todd arrived at her house to hand over both Coco and Coco’s food.
The prosecution argued that only someone who personally knew the victim and was aware of the relationship the victim had with her dog would steal both the dog and the dog food.
According to the victim, Todd was aware of her love for Coco and the special food that Coco needs to survive.
Additionally, the victim testified that Todd had previously asked about the security system she used in her house, which she willingly revealed.
Given that the outdoor security cameras on the victim’s house were disabled during the burglary, the prosecution argued that it is very likely that the burglar knew where the security cameras were located beforehand.
The prosecution believed that a specific motive exists for Todd to commit the crime, possibly because the victim denied Todd’s proposal to do the construction on her house.
The defense spoke next, arguing that the court should reduce both charges to misdemeanors from felonies faced by Archuleta, given her minimal involvement in the crime.
According to the defense, an officer who worked with Archuleta “made a statement at the end of this report that she was cooperative in facilitating the return of the dog.”
“I’ve been doing this for almost 14 years and.. I’ve never seen something like that written into a report,” the defense stated.
The defense then argued that not enough evidence exists to find Archuleta guilty of extortion.
“The requirement for a holding order on extortion is to threaten to unlawfully injure or use force against the property of another person, and I just don’t think the court has that here on Archuleta’s behalf,” said the defense.
Archuleta left a voicemail for the victim in which she stated “do you want the dog or not,” which according to the defense does not constitute a threat to use force or unlawfully injure the dog.
“I hope that what the court can glean from the communication between Todd and Archuleta is that Archuleta is clearly not the mastermind and she’s not coming up with the ideas on her own. It’s clear that the text messages that Archuleta is receiving are basically giving her instructions and she’s following them.”
The prosecution responded to the defense’s argument and disagreed with the implications of Archuleta’s voicemail to the victim.
According to the prosecution, “do you want the dog or not” clearly implies that something bad was going to happen to Coco if the victim did not obtain the $20,000.
Additionally, the prosecution noted a welfare fraud felony that Archuleta was charged with in 2001 that was reduced to a misdemeanor.
“The fact that Archuleta continues to engage in criminal behavior despite a previous break from the court indicates that she is not deserving of a second break, especially in a case of this nature,” said the prosecutor.
Judge Amy Sekany ruled there is probable cause that Todd should be held to answer for the felony charges of first degree residential burglary, grand theft and the grand theft of the dog.
Judge Sekany announced the motion to reduce Archuleta’s felony charge to a misdemeanor was denied and that Archuleta will be held to answer for the felony charges of receiving stolen property and attempted extortion.
The next hearing date for arraignment and trial setting will be May 23.