The former president of the Liberty Management Group will be spending the holidays in jail after a bond reduction hearing on Monday, Dec. 12, resulted in no decision.
Joshua Lethbridge, 49, was arrested Wednesday, Sept. 21, and charged with embezzling more than $250,000 over 10 years from The Mountain Club Home Owners Association, which, until Sept. 1, had been a long-time client of Liberty.
Lethbridge is currently facing one count of fraud schemes, one count of theft over $100,000, and eight counts of forgery.
More than 30 members of the Mountain Club showed up to observe the bond reduction hearing, as did several members of Lethbridge’s family.
Defending Lethbridge at the hearing were Yavapai County public defender Andrew Falick and private criminal defense attorney Craig Williams.
In November, Williams submitted a request on behalf of Lethbridge that the bond be reduced from its current $500,000 cash bail bond to a $5,000 surety bond. A cash bail bond requires someone to pay the full amount of the bail in cash if they wish to be released. A surety bond typically requires someone to pay only a portion of the bond amount (i.e. 10 percent) to post bail.
Williams said during Monday’s hearing that the reduction requested was to provide the court with a range to work within.
The prosecution, headed by Yavapai County prosecutor Susan Eazer and supported by Robert Schmitt, who The Mountain Club privately hired to directly represent its residents in the case, strongly opposed the reduction.
This was partially to ensure Lethbridge stays in custody until his official hearing so he does not have the opportunity to flee the country, an action Williams said Lethbridge has “no intention of doing.”
The prosecution also believes maintaining pressure on Lethbridge will increase the likelihood of him paying restitution.
“We see Mr. Lethbridge’s continued incarceration as our best chance of recovering a significant portion of our stolen treasury funds,” The Mountain Club Board President James Poore said.
Despite the large sum he has been charged with embezzling, Lethbridge is claiming he is indigent. This has yet to be determined and could significantly affect how much the bail is set for and whether or not The Mountain Club will ever see a penny of the stolen money returned.
After hearing what the defense and prosecution had to say about the character of Lethbridge and why he does or does not deserve leniency in regard to the bond amount, Judge Jennifer Campbell called for a brief private session to discuss the bond amount and see what sort of alternatives there may be to the $500,000 cash-only bond.
The discussion was inconclusive.
“At this point in time, it does appear we are going to need some more time for the attorneys to discuss what is going on,” Campbell said.
All of the parties agreed to postpone any further court proceedings until they have the opportunity to meet and further discuss the matter on Jan. 24.