Our office was aware of a case in the news before our client contacted our office. Greg Hill had read a story in the front page of the Daily Breeze that described police serving a search warrant on a home in Long Beach. Police had searched the home and allegedly found a stash of firearms parts, rifles scopes, triggers and other items worth $241,000. The story was memorable because there were no assembled weapons and clearly was a case of employee embezzlement from the employer.
What One Should Learn from This Summary: Never give up and always be respectful. Our office plea bargained a resolution wherein our client avoided prison although this was our client’s third conviction for a theft offense.
The homeowner was our client. The stash of firearm parts, scopes, etc. was allegedly owned by her employer, a distributor of such items in Torrance, near the Torrance Airport. The employer had contacted the Torrance police when it noticed certain items missing.
Our client, age 27, had two prior convictions for theft (one for pretty theft (Penal Code § 484 (a)) and one for grand theft (Penal Code § 487)), so the possibility of state prison for significant period of time appeared likely at the outset. Making matters worse, the Torrance police had seized our client’s laptop and cell phone and found evidence that she had sold such items on E-bay and other websites for fairly significant profits.
However, the client was also an amateur trader of such items and had bought the same items from other individuals vendors for years, from before her employment began with her gun parts employer. Therefore, it was impossible for police or the employer to estimate exactly how much in sales the client had made on her own with her employer’s property.
The client came to Greg Hill & Associates with a real sense of the gravity of the situation. Greg met with her and listened to the facts. On a positive note, it appeared that her employer kept poor inventory records and even found much more product at our client’s home than expected. This proved to be the key to later resolving this case without prison.
The client was charged with grand theft and the initial offer was three years in state prison, plus $20,000 in restitution as an approximation of the employer’s products that our client had sold for pure profit. The probation department report stated that our client would not be eligible for probation unless the court determined that the matter was an “exceptional case.”
Greg then proceeded to meet with the district attorney’s supervisor, who agreed to reduce the prison sentence to two years. The case was then set for a preliminary hearing, at which time a new prosecutor took over the file.
Greg proposed forgoing the preliminary hearing, which would have lasted several hours with detectives explaining which items sold on E-bay or other website were also carried by our client’s employer. Greg explained to the District Attorney that with each item described, Greg would elicit testimony from the detective that he could not positively say that item came from the employer because the employer’s inventory records were so deficient. Therefore, Greg would ask the judge to reduce the charges to a misdemeanor under Penal Code § 17(b) because the value of the items actually recovered was just a few thousand dollars.
Torrance Superior Courthouse
Greg then suggested to the District Attorney that the client would agree to a two-year joint suspended sentence contingent on the client performing 25 days of Cal-Trans and paying $6,000 of restitution to the victim. The client would have the probation period of three years to pay the restitution to the victim. The prosecutor agreed to this.
The client was ecstatic with the plea bargain reached, as she had a big fear of prison and a new job to support her family. She had planned on serving time in prison. However, the plea avoided this, defying the Daily Breeze’s characterization of the case as very serious on its front page several months earlier.
For more information about the issues in this theft offense case summary, click on the following articles:
- Multiple Convictions for Embezzlement (Grand Theft) from Employer Proper When Takings Distinguishable
- What Is Embezzlement (Penal Code § 503)?
- Defendant Violates Probation on a Seven-Year Joint Suspended Prison Sentence; under AB109, Sentenced to Seven Years in County Jail
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