Murder case witness and accused felon at large in Inyo

casteeldaniel

Daniel Casteel

Where is Dan Casteel? No one in Inyo law enforcement knows. He was supposed to testify in the Louis Leplat murder case. Casteel was also supposed to appear in court on various alleged crimes. He apparently disappeared from a drug treatment program in the bay area. On top of this, he likely would face charges related to embezzlement of around $150,000 from Sierra Gardens Nursery in Bishop.

The complex story of Casteel is partly revealed in court and jail records. According to Inyo Sheriff’s Lieutenant Randy Geiger, records show that Casteel was released from the Inyo County Jail to a residential treatment program last April. Lt. Geiger said Casteel committed some violation there, went back to jail in Inyo and then back to the program. He apparently escaped from there.

There are three warrants pending against Casteel – for possession of stolen property, weapons charges and felony violation of probation. Casteel failed to appear in court on these charges and bench warrants were issued.

Before all of that, Casteel turned up in the news as a key witness for the District Attorney in the Louis Leplat murder case. Court documents say that while in jail Casteel wore a wire and taped Leplat as he questioned him for the DA. It was after that time that DA Art Maillet claimed Leplat’s defense attorney Elizabeth Corpora should be out of the case because she had much earlier represented Casteel. Ultimately, Corpora removed herself from the case. Now, Casteel won’t even testify.

Leplat’s new attorney, Neil Quinn of Ventura County, said that Casteel is off the witness list.

And there’s one more loose end. Jim Roberts of Bishop, the son of Nancy Roberts who owned Sierra Gardens Nursery until her recent death, confirmed that the Sheriff’s Office has investigated allegations of embezzlement. The DA filed no charges before Casteel’s disappearance.

Casteel worked at the nursery, and Roberts said that Casteel was arrested at the nursery in June of 2009. Roberts said that Adult Protective Services indicated that senior abuse of his mother by Casteel had taken place. The allegations are that Casteel wrote numerous checks to himself and made charges on Ms. Roberts’ credit cards. Roberts said some 500 sheets of evidence were turned over to Sheriff’s officers.

Roberts said that the amount stolen from Nancy Roberts and the nursery was close to $150,000. Roberts believes that the district attorney should have charged Casteel with senior abuse, forgery, credit card fraud and misdirection of nursery assets. Roberts said he wants to know why Casteel was moved from the secure jail to a program and given the chance to escape.

The Inyo District Attorney will not comment on any criminal cases.

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