Woman Awaiting Forgery, Theft Trial Arrested Again

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The girlfriend of slain millionaire entrepreneur William F. McLaughlin was arrested again Thursday in Coto de Caza on suspicion of filing false financial statements to obtain cars and home loans, police said.

Nanette Johnston, 30, who is awaiting trial on charges that she embezzled nearly half a million dollars from McLaughlin by forging his checks, was arrested about 1 p.m. as she left her Coto de Caza home, Newport Beach Sgt. John Desmond said.

A felony arrest warrant issued Wednesday alleges she lied on a credit application, a car lease and a home loan application for the house she now rents.

In each case, Johnston is accused of fabricating personal financial information, such as using a fake Social Security number, inflating her income and lying about her tax returns, Desmond said.

According to police, Johnston applied to California Thrift & Loan in Costa Mesa last May for a $20,000 car loan. It was approved, and she bought a 1988 BMW, Desmond said.

On Nov. 23, she also leased a new Cadillac. And on Oct. 31, she applied for a $480,000 loan with BankersWest Funding Corp. for the home she rents in the Dove Canyon neighborhood.

McLaughlin, 55, was shot to death in his Newport Beach house on Dec. 15, 1994. Police later named Johnston and her boyfriend, Erik Naposki, a 28-year-old former professional football player, as a possible suspects. Johnston lived with McLaughlin at the time.

In April 1995, she was arrested on one count of grand theft and 15 counts of forgery. The complaint charges that she stole $497,000 from McLaughlin's accounts between Jan. 10, 1994, and the day of his death.

Johnston and Naposki have denied any involvement in the death. No arrests have been made.

"The homicide is an open case, so the investigation is ongoing," Desmond said. "We have been keeping tabs on the all the players. We had been monitoring her financial activity and discovered these financial irregularities."

A year after McLaughlin's death, Johnston also filed a lawsuit against his family for more than $1 million, alleging she owns half of his multimillion-dollar estate. Both cases are pending. Her attorneys could not be reached for comment.

Johnston is expected to be arraigned at Municipal Court in Newport Beach on Monday. Her trials on the previous charges will be held in coming weeks, Desmond said.

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