David Dodd 2:53 a.m., May 21
Admitted thief asked court's permission to travel to Mexico
Maria Carmen Nater ordered to repay thousands to libraries
A Vista woman accused of stealing thousands of books from San Diego County libraries in 2011, was in court yesterday asking permission to travel to Mexico.
Maria Carmen Nater, 46, was granted her probation modification appeal yesterday, February 28, 2013, by Superior Court Judge Timothy Casserly.
The petite Latina is on three years probation, after she pleaded guilty to one felony count of “commercial burglary” a year ago, in February 2012. She hopes to have her felony conviction reduced to a misdemeanor after 18 months successful probation, according to her private defense attorney Michael Hernandez.
Maria Carmen Nater has remained free on bond, since 2011, during the progress of her case.
Carlsbad police began an investigation after library workers noticed Maria Carmen Nater and two of her children, aged 7 and 8, trying to leave with a rolling cart full of books that had not-yet-been-checked out. Library staff were already concerned because they had realized unusual high loss recently, of certain high-value books, such as cooking and craft and oversized books, according to police statements found in court files.
Police obtained a search warrant, and went to Maria Carmen Nater’s home on Lado De Loma Drive in Vista, on September 6, 2011. Their report stated that approximately 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.”
“Maria Carmen Nater was unable to explain how she obtained such a large quantity of library books,” according to Carlsbad police. “Approximately 2,000 books” and “numerous DVDs” were seized, according to search warrant paperwork.
In her plea deal, Maria Carmen Nater agreed to refrain from having an online account with eBay or Amazon or Craigslist, and to not purchase nor sell merchandise online during her probation period. She was ordered to pay $7,600 in restitution, divided among Escondido and Oceanside and Carlsbad and San Diego County Public libraries.
Some of the conditions of Nater’s probation were listed as: “Stay away from, do not enter any library. Do not maintain or use any online accounts. Do not sell/purchase merchandise online.”
(Through her attorney, Maria Carmen Nater later got a superior court judge to order police return 17 different items that were taken from her home during the investigation, including gold and silver coins and luxury watches, a black fur coat, and a Louis Vuitton handbag. Also listed was the blue-and-black cart which the admitted felon used to haul away stolen library books and was first noticed by Carlsbad library employees, who then contacted police.)