A preliminary hearing for a woman facing resisting arrest, criminal trespass and retail theft charges was continued on Wednesday after she got into a disagreement with her attorney in court.
Public Defender Karen Ritchey at the beginning of the hearing told District Judge Kathy Calhoun that Auburn Schwartz, 42, no known address, was considering finding a new attorney.
Ritchey said Schwartz expressed “displeasure” with her after she informed Schwartz that the district attorney’s office was adding three additional charges of retail theft against her.
Schwartz was charged with a summary offense of retail theft on Feb. 27, as well as misdemeanor counts of resisting arrest and criminal trespass.
Ritchey said she had the conversation about the amended charges with Schwartz in the courtroom before Calhoun entered to begin the preliminary hearing.
Ritchey told the judge she did not know about the amended charges when she spoke to Schwartz earlier that morning, and that Schwartz was upset that she spoke to the district attorney’s office after they had spoken.
“Clearly, as a defense attorney, I have communication with the Commonwealth in every case,” Ritchey said.
Assistant District Attorney Dwight Diehl told the judge that he informed Ritchey of the amended charges only a few minutes before Schwartz entered the courtroom for a preliminary hearing.
Schwartz told the judge she never expressed displeasure with Ritchey and asked the judge to make a decision about her attorney, prompting Ritchey to ask the judge for her to be removed from the case.
“I’m not going to be accused of lying in open court,” Ritchey said.
Calhoun granted Ritchey’s request and continued the hearing for a later date after a new court-appointed attorney is selected.
Schwartz is in the Bedford County Correctional Facility on $5,000 straight bail.
State police first encountered Schwartz about 3 p.m. Feb. 26 at UPMC Bedford Memorial after troopers were dispatched there for complaints of a woman who would not leave.
State police said Schwartz wanted “drug and alcohol” rehab at the hospital, but was told by staff that it was not a service offered.
Police said Schwartz, who is black, began yelling at the staff and calling them racist as she left the hospital. She told police she had a ride back to Philadelphia and provided her name but had not photo identification.
Later that evening, police were contacted by Payless Shoes, 72 Bedford Square, after the staff there reported Schwartz had stolen a pair of shoes and got into a verbal argument with an employee, according to court documents.
Troopers were dispatched to the SAC gas station across Lincoln Highway at 11:30 p.m. on reports that Schwartz was following customers around the store. When troopers arrived, Schwartz was in the bathroom of the store and would not leave.
Schwartz was found in possession of the suspected stolen shoes from Payless and other items suspected of being stolen from Walmart, Weis and Tractor Supply.