Fil-Am lawyer pleads ‘not guilty’ to attempted murder of ex-clients
LOS ANGELES — A bankruptcy lawyer accused in a Baldwin Park, California, shooting of an elderly couple pleaded not guilty on Tuesday, March 20, less than two weeks after he and his wife were arrested in Idaho.
Fil-Ams Paul Mendoza Allen, 34, and his wife, 31-year-old Pauline Catibayan, appeared together at the Pomona Courthouse to face charges stemming from what prosecutors allege was the attempted murder of two of the attorney’s former clients.
Both victims survived, and the defendants are in custody after being extradited back to California with bails set at $10 million and $2million, respectively. Catibayan’s attorney, Alan Eisner, argued for a reduction in his client’s bail amount, calling the value “excessive.”
“There is no indication in reports that I have seen that would demonstrate her to be a danger to the community,” said Eisner during Tuesday’s arraignment proceedings. “If you are concerned about the issue of flight, you can place an electronic monitoring bracelet on her that would allow her to be a mother to her kids and be detained reasonably, but with her liberty.”
Judge Victor Martinez declined to act on Eisner’s statements, deferring the issue to a formal bail hearing set for Monday, May 26. Preliminary hearings for both defendants are scheduled for April 2.
Eisner and Allen’s attorney, Dmitry Gorin, did not ask to delay proceedings, despite telling the court on Tuesday that they were yet to receive police reports and other relevant documents from investigators. That appeared to illicit some confusion from Judge Martinez, who cited the seriousness of the defendants’ charges and the potential for substantial prison terms.
“I don’t expect counsel to come in on April 2 and say you are not prepared if you are telling me you are prepared now,” said Judge Martinez.
Gorin told the court the defense intends to bring the facts of the case to light as soon as possible, and that they were eager to receive the prosecution’s findings.
Meanwhile, the defendants occasionally glanced at Catibayan’s father and three others present to witness Tuesday’s arraignment. Upon initially entering the courtroom, Allen appeared to mouth words of encouragement to those in attendance. But otherwise, he and Catibayan maintained a downcast expression throughout the proceedings.
Investigators say the shooting centered around a dispute over money. Police responded to calls reporting shots fired on Tuesday, March 6 and discovered a woman in her eighties and a man in his late seventies with multiple gunshot wounds at the 14700 block of Olive Street in Baldwin Park.
The San Gabriel Valley Tribune reports that a traffic stop for tinted windows led Idaho State Police to discover an outstanding warrant for Allen on Wednesday, March 7. The couple was arrested near the city of Horseshoe Bend, where some of the defendants’ family members reside. They were held in the Jerome County Jail before their extradition to California.
Catibayan is accused of serving as an accessory to a crime after the fact, which carries a maximum penalty of three years. Allen’s charges include two counts of first degree attempted murder. If convicted, he faces a life sentence.