An ex-tenant accused of stealing expensive furniture and fixtures from the Encino home of former state Sen. Alan Robbins was ordered Monday to stand trial on two grand theft charges.
Municipal Judge Leslie A. Dunn said Ted Titmas purposely tried to keep several valuable pieces of Robbins' furniture, returning some of them only after police intervened.
Titmas, 46, is accused of trying to steal approximately $92,000 worth of goods from Robbins' home, including Persian and Chinese rugs, a hand-carved dining room table and Robbins' cherished Senate desk.
However, Titmas and his attorney, Mari Morsell, said Titmas stored Robbins' furniture for safekeeping while Titmas spent five months and $129,000 remodeling Robbins' house.
"There was an agreement and Robbins knew they were going to do extensive remodeling and that the stuff would be stored," Morsell said.
The second grand theft charge concerns a 1992 incident in which Titmas refused to return furniture to Valley resident Sanford Lazarus. Neither Titmas nor Morsell commented on that case.
Robbins leased his million-dollar home to Titmas in June, 1992, while the former Democratic senator was in prison on federal racketeering and tax evasion convictions. The lease on the home at 16743 Oak View Drive included an option to buy the building. But that deal fell through and Titmas could no longer make the $5,000 monthly rent payments. So Robbins started eviction proceedings in February, 1994.
Robbins, who served 20 months in a Lompoc federal prison camp, took the stand as the victim instead of the defendant, testifying that when he returned to his Encino home in March, 1994, after Titmas moved out, almost every piece of furniture had been taken.
"The house was stripped," Robbins told Deputy Dist. Atty. Susan Schwartz.
Robbins said stained glass windows, artwork, kitchen counters, bathtubs, 10 doors, a big-screen television and drapes were among the items taken from the home.
Charlene Brutto and Richard Linn, friends of Titmas and his wife, Carol Forsythe Titmas, also testified that Ted Titmas phoned the pair in February, 1994, to ask if they were interested in buying Robbins' Senate desk for $1,500. Neither Brutto nor Linn bought the desk, they said.
Titmas returned about 60% of Robbins' furniture in 1994, including the dining room set and the Olympic torch Robbins carried in the run that preceded the 1984 Los Angeles Games. There was no indication where the other items were.
Outside the courtroom Monday, Titmas said Robbins' valuable items were placed in storage at his now defunct Van Nuys-based company, SludgeFree. Titmas said his business was taken over by a new owner after it went bankrupt and Titmas was not allowed on the property.
The furniture stored there was then moved to various locations, Titmas said. Titmas was able to retrieve some of the furniture, which he said he returned to Robbins. Any remaining items could have been taken by someone else, Titmas said.
Titmas is scheduled to be arraigned for trial May 30 in Superior Court.