Santa Barbara private investigator battling charges, arrested again

July 13, 2023

Craig Case


A longtime Santa Barbara private investigator appeared in court on Tuesday as a defendant in a felony forgery and identity theft case, then stepped out of the courthouse and was promptly arrested on charges related to embezzlement. [KCOY]

Craig Case is a private investigator and private security patrol operator. He is also a television personality who privately purchased airtime for his food and wine show called the Inn Crowd, which aired on weekend evenings on KEYT. Additionally, Case is a donor to the Santa Barbara Police Department and had been well-connected to multiple law enforcement agencies. 

The initial charges against Case stem from an incident in which a patrol officer stopped his vehicle for having expired registration. During the stop, Case said he did not have any weapons in his vehicle. Police searched the vehicle and found a loaded gun. Case said he forgot it was there, court records show. 

Case had a concealed carry permit that police later determined had been altered and contained a forged signature of Sheriff Bill Brown. 

Prosecutors charged Case with felony counts including identity theft, offering false evidence and preparing false documentary evidence. They also charged him with a misdemeanor count of carrying an unregistered loaded handgun in a vehicle.

On Tuesday morning, Case appeared at a hearing on the conditions of his supervised release. Judge Kathleen Diesman gave Case until July 17 to relinquish supervision of his business to another person.

After the hearing, Case stepped outside Santa Barbara Superior Court. Authorities then served a criminal arrest warrant for him.

The arrest warrant pertained to a case in which $687,500 was allegedly embezzled from a 94-year-old Montecito resident between Oct. 2018 and April 2021. The alleged embezzlement involved an estate executor making short term loans to Case. When Case did not pay the loans back, the executor stopped.

Authorities did not place Case in handcuffs outside the courthouse. Case agreed to cooperate with district attorney’s office investigators and walked with them to their office. 

Senior Deputy District Attorney Brian Cota said Case would be booked in jail with his bail set at $200,000. Case would remain in custody until a court hearing in which a judge could approve Case’s source of money for posting bail. 

Case has faced several lawsuits, including a class-action suit over employees’ unpaid overtime and unpaid business expenses. The private investigator has also faced allegations in civil court related to failing to pay back loans. 

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