Rare restitution hearing set in Schroeder Piano case
Published - 08/20/15 - 07:22 AM | 4188 views | 0 0 comments | 27 27 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The defunct Schroeder Piano Company closed last February amid grand theft, elder theft and fraud charges leveled against owner Peter Schroeder. A restitution hearing to determine the instruments' value has been scheduled for Sept. 25. PHOTO BY DAVE SCHWAB
The defunct Schroeder Piano Company closed last February amid grand theft, elder theft and fraud charges leveled against owner Peter Schroeder. A restitution hearing to determine the instruments' value has been scheduled for Sept. 25. PHOTO BY DAVE SCHWAB
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In what is seen as a rare move, a restitution hearing will be held Friday, Sept. 25 to determine the exact losses and value of 16 grand pianos that were sold by Peter Schroeder on consignment during the years his piano shop was opened in La Jolla.

Schroeder, of Pacific Beach, is charged with 18 counts of grand theft, elder theft and fraudulent appropriation as the longtime owner of Schroeder Piano Company, which was located at 5680 La Jolla Blvd. before it closed in February.

Deputy District Attorney Paul Greenwood said a judge will be assigned to conduct a hearing with appraisers and piano professionals who will use documents, photographs and other information about the instruments' values.

A determination of the exact loss must be made before a guilty plea can be entered because Schroeder, 75, would be required to pay restitution at a sentencing. But since both sides disagree about the total loss, San Diego Superior Court Judge Timothy Walsh set the restitution hearing. Walsh's action took place Aug. 18.

Greenwood says he has never heard of a restitution hearing being conducted before a guilty plea or a conviction is entered. This type of hearing, he added, usually occurs either at sentencing or afterward since guilt must be established before someone can be ordered to pay for damages or theft.

Greenwood said the lack of an exact figure on the total loss complicates whether Schroeder can enter a guilty plea. His attorney, Mehrdad Ghassemkhani, couldn’t be reached for comment, but during the April 23 preliminary hearing, most of his questions concerned the value of the pianos and why a witness specified the piano’s worth.

Some of the witnesses testified about placing pianos with Schroeder for sale on consignment. They said the pianos often sold with little or no documentation as to how much they were sold for or who the new owner was. Some owners had died, and their relatives testified about what they knew. Some of the pianos were placed with Schroeder from 2011 to 2014.

Schroeder’s trial has been set for Nov. 4, but Greenwood said he hopes it can be resolved before then. Schroeder has pleaded not guilty and remains free on his own recognizance.

– Neal Putnam

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