Another continuance granted in Castaneda case

PRESCOTT - A month and a half after an initial reference to a possible change of plea in the case involving former Elks Opera House Manager Dawn Castaneda, attorneys apparently still are working on a possible plea offer.

At a status conference on the case Wednesday, Castaneda's attorney Eric English told Yavapai County Superior Court Judge Tina Ainley that he expected to receive a plea agreement soon from Mohave County Prosecutor Jace Zack.

"Mr. Zack is going to be tendering a plea agreement to my office," English said.

To allow time for consideration of that agreement, English asked Ainley to continue the matter for about two weeks.

After conferring with Zack, who was participating telephonically from his office in Kingman, Ainley set the change-of-plea discussion for 10 a.m., Jan. 31, in Yavapai County Superior Court. She said the conference would allow for review of a "possible non-trial resolution."

The case centers on incidents that local officials allege occurred in July and October 2010. The Prescott Police Department arrested Castaneda on Oct. 13, 2010, on charges of theft and fraudulent use of a city credit card.

A Yavapai County grand jury indicted Castaneda on Sept. 9, 2011, on five counts, including four felony counts involving theft, scheme or artifice to defraud, and forgery, and one misdemeanor count for possession of rigging bags that belonged to the City of Prescott.

Castaneda entered not-guilty pleas later in September, and several postponements have occurred since then.

Ainley set this week's change-of-plea discussion during a status conference on Nov. 21, 2011. At that time, the judge said the Jan. 4, 2012, conference would focus on a "non-trial option."