Couple sentenced to probation for squatting in Newport Coast mansion

A couple accused of "fairly sophisticated squatting" at an ocean-view mansion in Newport Coast was sentenced to three years of probation Wednesday in Santa Ana.

Chris Wayne Duncan, 43, and Robin Ann Duncan, 37, both of Newport Beach, pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of conspiracy to commit trespass and one misdemeanor count of trespass, the Orange County district attorney's office said.

"This crime is an example of people taking advantage of the current real estate environment," said Pete Pierce, the prosecutor who originally asked for the Duncans to be charged with a felony.

The Duncans moved into the $2.2-million house at 10 Hidden Pass in September 2010, changed the locks and contacted the gas and electric company. They claimed to be renters and requested the utilities' bill be put in their name.

"We would say that this was not just a run-of-the-mill trespass," Pierce said. "They were planning to re-rent the house after the initial break-in."

The couple was arrested Jan. 5 by the Newport Beach Police Department.

"I believe that they thought they could get involved in a con where the could live in a nice home," said Pierce, who originally hoped the Duncans would serve jail time. "I hope this will not be a green light for others who want to engage in this kind of conduct."

—This story was reported by Times Staff Writer Dalina Castellanos.

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