A San Francisco judge issued a gag order Friday in the case of a Palo Alto couple who have been charged with threatening and stealing from the tenants of the San Francisco apartment building they own.
The judge's order prohibits the defendants, lawyers and any witnesses from talking to reporters.
Bail has been set at $350,000 each. Kip Macy is out on bail because the couple used their property as collateral. But that wasn't enough to pay for Nicole Macy's bail, too.
The couple decided Kip Macy should be the one out on bail so he can raise additional money through his work as a software engineer.
Media interest in the case has been intense since the San Francisco District Attorney's office filed multiple felony charges last month against the two for allegedly harassing and threatening tenants of their Clementina Street apartment building.
Those charges include three counts each of conspiracy, two counts of harassment and threats, three counts of burglary, one count of interruption of electric service, two counts of grand theft and one of count of defacing property. All except the last count are felonies.
The district attorney has charged the couple of pouring ammonia on the clothing, bedding and electronics equipment of three tenants when they were not home and also removing other belongings from their apartment in an attempt to evict them.
Court documents also contend that Kip Macy called a now-former tenant, who is a witness in the case, and told him that Nicole Macy had a gun and if the tenant ever came by the building again she would shoot him. Investigators discovered that Kip and Nicole Macy purchased a handgun two days earlier from a San Rafael gun store.
Diana Kenny, an investigator for the district attorney's office, filed a declaration with the court that said she had interviewed four tenants and two former tenants involved in the case. "All have told me that they fear for their safety as a result of the conduct of Kip Macy and Nicole Macy," Kenney wrote in her declaration.
One television, one radio and three newspaper reporters were in court Friday morning for the bail reduction hearing. One newspaper and two TV photographers waited in the hallway, denied entrance to the courtroom.
Judge Garrett Wong denied motions for the two attorneys representing Kip Macy and Nicole Macy to reduce bail or release them on their own recognizance.
Assistant District Attorney Max Peltz argued against reducing bail because of the threats the Macys allegedly made to the tenants.
"The victims say they are afraid of retaliation," Peltz said.
He described incidents including "a powered saw blade coming through a victim's floor on two occasions," incidents in which the Macys entered tenants' apartments to remove personal items and "a threatening voicemail from Nicole Macy" that one of the tenants received.
"These are serious acts that put lives in jeopardy," Peltz said.
However, Michael Whelan, the attorney representing Nicole Macy, said his client has had "no prior contact with the criminal justice system."
Whelan said that San Francisco police had been called to the building several times because of disputes between the Macys and their tenants, but the police never chose to file any criminal charges.
One of the tenants had filed lawsuits against the former owners of the building, according to Lisa DrewBerry, the lawyer for Kip Macy. The same tenant was responsible for some of the current complaints against the Macys, she added.
If the tenant is a "vexatious litigant," Wong said he would consider any evidence of that at the next court hearing May 23 when bail may be reconsidered.
Arguing against bail reduction, Peltz added: "There is a serious risk of flight," noting that the Macys own property in Incline Village, Nev. That property is in the process of being transferred to Nicole Macy "as part of a divorce that is still pending," he said, adding that Nicole Macy has a Nevada driver's license.
Wong declined to reduce bail and then issued the gag order.
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