Paralegal, roommate plead not guilty to forgery

A former Newport Beach paralegal and her roommate pleaded not guilty Monday to stealing a check from a law firm and using it to fund a lavish spending spree in New York City.

Alexa Antonella Polar, 34, and her roommate, Robin Johzen Pabello, 33, both of Garden Grove, were charged Monday with two felony counts of forgery, felony grand theft and felony embezzlement with a sentencing enhancement of committing a white-collar crime of more than $100,000.

Prosecutors said Polar worked for a Newport Beach law firm, which wasn't named, took a $19,500 check made payable to the firm and altered it into a $285,000 check made payable to Pabello.

The pair deposited the check into an ATM and obtained cashier's checks of $100,000 and $33,000, authorities said.

Some of the money went to chartering a private jet to fly the pair and several friends to New York City, where they booked five rooms at a hotel in Times Square and bought merchandise from Tiffany & Co. and Montblanc. They also allegedly used the cash to lease a $3.7-million home in Murrieta.

Police were notified when the bank that issued the check rejected it after it was processed by the bank that received the funds.

Polar and Pabello are scheduled to be back in court for a pretrial hearing Jan. 25. The pair face up to six years and four months in prison, if convicted.

—Joseph Serna

Twitter: @JosephSerna

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