COURT: Quaid remains in lockup

Actor speaks during hearing in local court

Elodie Reed

By Elodie Reed

Staff Writer

Just
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ST. ALBANS — Sometimes, it doesn’t pay to be famous. At least that’s what the lawyer for a Hollywood actor believes. In the case of Oscar-nominated actor Randy Quaid and his actress, producer and director wife, Evi, property crimes allegedly committed five years ago – and complicated bail bonding – have brought them to where they are today: held on $500,000 bail, each, at Northwest State and Chittenden Regional correctional facilities after trying to cross the Canadian border into Vermont with an extraditable bench warrant. Both were arraigned in those respective county superior courts Monday, and both continued to be held on $500,000 bail (set down by a California judge in the warrant) due to lack of paperwork because California courts were closed for Columbus day. Probable cause hearings are expected to be held for both in Franklin County Thursday. Though affidavits weren’t available, the warrant issued from the Santa Barbara, Calif. state’s attorney describes the felony vandalism count (in which household fixtures, furniture, a fireplace and mirror were defaced, damaged or destroyed), unauthorized entry of a dwelling house misdemeanor count and failure to appear in court while on bail count with which both Quaids are charged. Evi Quaid is also charged with resisting or obstructing law enforcement, a misdemeanor. These charges stem from the Quaids reportedly squatting on Sept. 18, 2010 in a guesthouse they previously owned, being released on recognizance bail and then missing a related court hearing scheduled in Nov. 2010. Yesterday in Franklin County Superior Court, Judge Alison Arms presided over Randy Quaid’s arraignment. In a full room of media, lawyers and other suspects to be arraigned, Quaid entered in handcuffs, wearing a parka, glasses and shock of flyaway facial hair. Representing him was attorney Peter Langrock of Middlebury. Langrock immediately asked Arms to release his client on conditions, and said that Quaid rejected the notion of returning to California on a warrant for alleged crimes committed in 2010. “Quite frankly, if my client weren’t a celebrity, we wouldn’t be here,” he said. Langrock added that Quaid has no criminal record and that the incident with the property crimes stemmed from a misunderstanding about the property’s ownership. “It was a complicated sales transaction,” said Langrock. “He [Quaid] thought he still owned the property.” He added, “They’re eventually going to go back to California to answer to the charges.” Franklin County State’s Attorney Jim Hughes said that, from Vermont’s perspective, it does not appear that Quaid is going to return to California on his own, given his and his wife’s stay in Canada for five years when there was an active warrant for their arrests. “Mr. Quaid had an approaching date to be deported from Canada and instead of being deported, he came into the U.S. in Highgate or Berkshire,” said Hughes. According to Vermont State Trooper Matthew Johnson, the Quaid couple was driven to the West Berkshire port of entry around 10 p.m. Friday, where U.S. Customs and Border Patrol then transported them to the Highgate Springs Port of Entry. From there, Vermont State Police picked up the couple and transported them to the St. Albans Barracks, where they were processed and brought to the respective correctional facilities. In a phone interview Monday, Johnson specified that the Quaids were aware they would probably be arrested when they tried to cross the border, and had a friend drive them. “This was not a surprise for them,” said Johnson yesterday. Hughes told Arms that in general, when it comes to Quaid and his five-year-old warrant from California, “He’s shown a propensity to not going back.” Langrock argued, “There was nothing inappropriate about him being in Canada – he was there legally.” The Quaids were in Vancouver in November 2010 when they missed their California court hearing, and stayed. Evi Quaid, whose father was born in Canada and reportedly lives in Vermont, was granted citizenship there, though Randy Quaid was not. Langrock continued, “He’s never been in a place he couldn’t be found. There really is no reason for him to be held on $500,000 bail.” Judge Arms spoke about what she had to decide in this case: whether there was probable cause for Randy Quaid to be extradited to Santa Barbara, Calif. “The court finds currently that there is not probable cause,” she said. Hughes asked for a three-day period to receive the affidavits with regard to the original alleged property crimes in California, which Arms granted. Prior to the hearing ending, Quaid himself asked Langrock whether he should speak, and then did. Quaid gave an in-depth description of his version of events of the past five years – including that he and his wife had allegedly never been informed of the hearing they missed, but were in Vancouver for an award reception at the time – and described the whole circumstance as some misunderstandings with a bail bondsman who posted for them without telling them. About 10 minutes into Quaid’s story, Arms interrupted and asked Langrock, “Do you have any support for any of this?” He said he did – he had a large pile of papers in front of him – but said he wasn’t ready for all the information to be considered in the court Monday. Arms said none of Quaid’s story addressed the validity of the bench warrant in front of her, which was the business she had to attend to. Langrock asked if bail could be set lower Monday, but Arms declined. “I don’t disagree with you that $500,000 is high for alleged property crimes,” she said, she decided to keep the bail set by Santa Barbara Superior Court Judge Donna Geck on the warrant. In this consideration, said Arms, was the fact that the Quaids left a warrant unanswered for five years while staying in Canada. “We will be back in three days time,” she said. That hearing has not yet been scheduled. In a press conference outside the courthouse, Hughes said on Thursday, he expected the Quaids to attend probable cause hearings in Franklin County. When asked about the case itself, Hughes said the situation is not all that uncommon. “Being on the Canadian border we get a lot of traffic and some of our caseload comes from there,” he said. “Merely by the presence of the Quaids in Vermont, when there is an extraditable arrest warrant in California, the state of Vermont has the power to bring a charge called fugitive from justice. There’s no criminal penalty in Vermont.” He added that just like another person with an extraditable warrant, it will be up to Judge Arms to decide whether there’s probable cause for the warrant. “It’s merely a matter of allowing California to come and get the Quaids if they waive their right to contest the extradition, or to give the Quaids a chance to contest the extradition,” Hughes said. If they contest, the state of California will be forced to get a Governor’s warrant to extradite the Quaids against their will, according to Hughes. Regardless of their celebrity, said Hughes, the Quaids are going through the process like anybody else.” [Randy is] a guy who came across the border with an extraditable warrant on him. The police treated him just like anybody else they