Photo of Maria Nater by Nick Morris
  • Photo of Maria Nater by Nick Morris
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A Vista woman accused of stealing thousands of books from libraries around San Diego County pleaded guilty to one count of “commercial burglary” in the Vista courthouse on February 20.

An investigation reportedly started last July when Maria Carmen Nater, 45, tried to leave the Carlsbad library with books that had not been checked out. Nater reportedly used a rolling cart that she had brought with her.

Police detective Kerry Weber stated that Nater brought her two seven- and eight-year-old children with her and that her son first tried to leave with items that had not been checked out, but an alarm sounded and library staff intercepted him.

Library workers had previously noticed an unusual loss of certain books — books on cooking, crafts, gardening, and oversized books. “Library staff began paying more attention to suspicious activity,” according to police statements found in court files.

Carlsbad police went to Nater’s home on Lado de Loma Drive in Vista last September and they said up to 1000 books “could be observed in plain view” and Nater “admitted to selling books on Amazon and stated she had multiple library books in her residence,” according to court records. “Maria Carmen Nater was unable to explain how she obtained such a large quantity of library books,” according to Carlsbad police. “Approximately 2000 books” and “numerous DVDs” were seized, according to search-warrant paperwork.

In the plea deal, Nater agreed to refrain from having an online account with eBay, Amazon, or Craigslist and to not purchase nor sell merchandise online during her probation period. Nater has been ordered to pay restitution of $7600, which will be divided among Escondido, Oceanside, Carlsbad, and San Diego County libraries.

Nater could get anywhere from probation to three years’ custody, according to the plea deal read aloud by superior court judge Kimberlee Lagotta. Sentencing is scheduled for April 25. She remains free on $40,000 bond.

Prosecutor Marnie McGee agreed to not oppose reducing the single felony count to a misdemeanor if Nater is able to successfully complete 18 months of probation without offense, pay the restitution, and “attend a parenting class if directed by the probation officer.”

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Comments

SurfPuppy619 Feb. 22, 2012 @ 10:36 a.m.

Major grand theft, and the prosecutor agrees to a misdemeanor reduction if she pays back the stolen money-that will teach those thieves!

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Burwell Feb. 22, 2012 @ 11:54 a.m.

If Nater is a naturalized citizen ICE should begin legal proceedings to revoke her citizenship and deport her.

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Visduh Feb. 22, 2012 @ 8:36 p.m.

A whole lot of things should have happened here that did not happen. Restitution? Gimme a break! If she had any bucks, she would not be stealing books and selling them. Hers was a cottage industry that kept her and her kids fed, and that's about all. If she's an illegal or naturalized she "should" be kicked out of the US. Ahh, those kids are anchor babies, so she's not going anywhere but the slammer, maybe. Isn't it good to know that Marnie McGee is a "tough" prosecutor protecting our library assets, and that Judge Kimberlee Lagotta is a "tough on crime" judge. If left to their own instincts, both would have given this perp a slap on the wrist and no jail time or anything else.

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Javajoe25 Feb. 22, 2012 @ 10:39 p.m.

Something doesn't sound right to me about this story. First of all, how does the women get 2,000 books out of the library? I mean, I know she probably took more than one at a time, but even so--what did she do, go through the doors without stopping 750 times? You can't go through the doors without the alarm going off, so where was the staff? And this business of her selling the books on Amazon...I've bought plenty of used books through Amazon, and can't say I ever got a library book--and even if you manage to get the library catalog band off the binding, there is still the branch stamp across the edge of the pages. You think people bought books, and after realizing they were library books, they didn't contact Amazon to have the seller blocked?

I think this lady is your basic whack-job klepto, and the "I sell them on Amazon to feed my kids" is just a half-baked defense. This lady needs lots of counseling and should pay a realistic restitution, and definitely forfeit her borrowing privileges for a couple of years. It's good that she got her kids into reading though. Based on that, I'd cut her restitution by 25%.

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