When Can Grand Theft Via Embezzlement Be Many Charges?
The company began experiencing financial problems in the late 1990’s. In response, Jaska allegedly began loaning money to the company, which would then pay it back to her. When the IRS and Department of Justice got involved in auditing the books due to income tax and social security underpayments, they discovered massive embezzlement by Jaska going on.Condensed Version: Multiple convictions for embezzlement (grand theft) from employer proper when different methods used for stealing over many years and when the takings were not part of a “single plan or single impulse."
The Barstow jury hearing the state court case found Jaska guilty of five counts of grand theft by embezzlement (Penal Code § 487(a)), as well as several other charges relating to income tax evasion. In 2005, the court sentenced Jaska to twelve years in prison and to pay a $300,000 fine, as well as to pay restitution of $499,999 at ten percent interest per annum starting in 2002.
The Fourth Appellate District Court disagreed with Jaska, finding that alleging five separate crimes was permissible under the facts of this case. The appellate court described how it found that Jaska had abused her position of trust within the company to steal money. The Court described how she paid for various personal expenses using various accounts, meaning she used no single method to steal. The Court found that Jaska had no single plot or scheme and that she did not act with an intent to steal a defined sum of money. Her goal was to finance her own living expenses and life style until she retired. Moreover, the Court noted, the thefts were over a long time span and seemed opportunistic in nature, or separate, rather than motivated by a singular impulse.
In making such findings, the Court found that the jury could have reasonably inferred that Jaska did not commit all the charged thefts pursuant to “one intention, one general impulse, and one plan” as set forth in People v. Bailey at page 519. For example, there was not a plan to pay for a loved one’s hospital expenses and then stop, or to finance a vacation and then stop. Instead, the takings continued over a period of years and included expenses for car repairs, credit card purchases and car payments.
Accordingly, the Appellate Court affirmed this part of the lower court’s ruling. The Appellate Court, however, reversed on pre-custody credits that it found Jaska was entitled to, but erroneously not given credit for by the trial court.
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