LOS ANGELES – Two women pleaded not guilty Monday to federal mail fraud and related charges alleging that they befriended two transient men and then illegally collected $2.3 million from insurance policies after their hit-and-run deaths.
Olga Rutterschmidt, 73, and Helen Golay, 75, answered questions about whether they understood the charges and quietly entered their pleas.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul L. Abrams set a July 25 trial date for the women, who remain in federal custody.
As the fraud case proceeds, police are investigating whether the women were involved in the deaths of Paul Vados in 1999 and Kenneth McDavid in 2005.
Authorities believe Golay and Rutterschmidt duped the two men into naming them as beneficiaries on life insurance policies and listed themselves as relatives, business partners or fiancees.
In court to watch the arraignment were Vados' daughter, Stella Vados, and Golay's daughter, Kecia Golay.
"I wanted to see them," Vados said later.
Kecia Golay refused to comment to reporters.
Her mother's attorney, Roger Jon Diamond, asked the judge to move his client from a San Bernardino federal lockup to the downtown Los Angeles Metropolitan Detention Center where Rutterschmidt is being held.
Abrams denied the request, saying another judge ordered the women to be held separately.
Diamond said he couldn't answer questions about details of the case because the government had not yet shared its evidence with the defense team.
He described the women as "two nice ladies who did nothing wrong."
Attorneys for both women pointed out there have been no charges other than those related to fraud.
Rutterschmidt's attorney, Kim Savo, rebuked the media and questioned whether the women could get a fair trial because of the news coverage.