SAN FRANCISCO—Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. said six individuals arraigned today on identity theft charges “wreaked financial and emotional havoc” on victims by making tens of thousands of dollars in fraudulent charges in their names. The defendants face multiple felony counts of identity theft, conspiracy, possession of stolen property, and grand theft.
The identity theft ring was able to steal 20 identities and over $170,000 worth of cash, expensive clothing, jewelry and accessories. They bought flat screen TVs, a Gucci watch and $31,000 worth of merchandise from Neiman-Marcus. Members of the ring raised cash by returning items bought using fake identities.
“This criminal identity theft ring wreaked financial and emotional havoc on the victims, who will now endure hours of work fixing their credit and rebuilding their lives,” Brown said. “It’s important to keep these fraud rings from ripping off other victims.”
The six defendants face charges of violating California Penal Code section 182 for conspiring to commit identity theft, section 484 for theft, section 530.5 for identity theft, and section 496 for possession of stolen property. Possible sentences for each defendant range from a minimum of four years to a maximum of 27 years and four months.
The individuals facing charges today include:
• Matthew Medlin, 31, of Campbell.
• Jessica Campos, 30, of Santa Clara, also faces charges of violating California Penal Code section 502(c) for using dental office clients’ personal information.
• Chev Chan, 31, of San Jose, also faces charges of violating California Penal Code section 496 for receiving stolen property.
• Quang Le, 32, of Santa Clara. Le also faces charges of violating California Penal Code section 487 for grand theft.
• Daniel Lee Lesly, 31, of Los Altos. Lesly also faces charges of violating California Penal Code section 487 for grand theft.
• Nick Phuong Luu, 29, of Vallejo. Luu also faces charges of violating California Penal Code section 487 for grand theft, and section 496 for receiving stolen property.
In late 2009, Brown’s office was notified by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service that several individuals reported their social security numbers had been illegally used to apply for credit cards. The credit card information was sent to a San Jose residence later discovered to be the home of Chev Chan.
The subsequent investigation revealed that between June and December of 2009, the defendants, along with other unnamed suspects, engaged in an identity theft spree throughout the Bay Area. The ring’s leaders, Nick Luu and Chev Chan, used several San Jose, Santa Clara, Sunnyvale, and Campbell addresses to divert the victims’ mail. Luu and Chan also had victims’ mail sent through false change-of-address forms and opened five Post Office boxes in San Jose.
Most of the victims’ identities were stolen from clients at a San Jose law office and Santa Clara dental office where two of the defendants worked.
During a search of Nick Luu’s residence, Brown’s office found 10 dental claim forms that contained patients’ names, addresses, dates of birth and social security numbers. The forms were given to Luu by Jessica Campos, an employee of the Santa Clara dental office, to use to manufacture fake identities. Campos was told by leaders in the ring to obtain current employers and addresses of Asian males who were about the same ages as the conspirators. As a result of Campos’ involvement, three dental office patients had their personal information used to make fraudulent purchases.
Chev Chan, used stolen identities to open Discover, Bank of America, and Chase credit cards while he worked at the San Jose law office. Chan used his work computer to change account addresses and open fraudulent credit card accounts under two victims’ names. Chan also used his employment address to receive mail and open two Post Office boxes under the victims’ names.
One of the defendants, Quang Le, was seen on video surveillance at Zales Jewelers in Eastridge Mall making a fraudulent purchase of $4,400. Le also racked up over $31,000 in fraudulent charges at Neiman-Marcus.
The fraud ring also opened fraudulent bank accounts and wrote dozens of checks. Daniel Lesly wrote 15 non-sufficient-funds checks totaling almost $2,000 from an account he fraudulently opened at Bank of America. The checks were written from the account to Target and Lucky’s. Lesly also returned a Gucci watch, previously purchased using a fake identity, and took over $2,000 in cash for the exchange.
To enable him to use the credit cards, defendant Mark Medlin used the victims’ identities to open credit lines and manufacture fake California driver’s licenses. These fraudulent driver’s licenses were used by Nick Luu, Chev Chan, and Quang Le.
Additional items purchased with the stolen identities include:
• A watch worth $8,150 from Ben Bridge Jewelers
• Merchandise worth $6,402 from Nordstrom
• A 55” flat screen television worth $3,277 from Sears online
• A 40” flat screen television worth $1,509 from Sears online
• Comforters and bedding worth $725 from Macy’s
• A Movado watch worth $1,281 from Kay’s Jewelers
• A Tag Heuer watch worth $4,485 from Macy’s
• Jewelry worth $8,150 from Ben Bridge Jeweler
Do you have questions about embezzlement? Give Prosperident a call at 888-398-2327 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Content retrieved from: https://oag.ca.gov/news/press-releases/bay-area-identity-theft-ring-faces-felony-charges-following-investigation
A 35-year-old Beaumont woman has been arrested by deputies for allegedly stealing nearly $25,000 from a dentist’s office where she was office manager.
According to law enforcement, Yvonne Mendoza was arrested Jan. 5 at the Yucaipa dentist’s office where she had been employed for three years and admitted embezzling an average of eight, $500 credit card transactions a month and depositing the money into her own account.
Investigators contend that about a year ago the suspect was made office manager at the dental office and, without the knowledge or approval of her employer, she changed her payroll status from an hourly to salaried employee.
Afterward, she allegedly began paying herself $8,000 a month, causing the business to suffer a loss of about $96,000, sheriff’s investigators contended.
Over the course of several months, the investigators said, she transferred about $25,000 into her personal account.
Because of the fraud, according to deputies, the dental office sustained losses of more than $100,000.
Mendoza has been fired from the dental office. She was arrested for grand theft and embezzlement and has been released from custody on $50,000 bail.
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Content retrieved from: http://www.recordgazette.net/news/beaumont-woman-arrested-in-theft/article_f196ac52-87d4-5834-b039-0f34734fc964.html?TNNoMobile
“This is a short note extending our appreciation to your department for the excellent work and service Deputy District Attorney Victor Chen provided our dental office …following our discovery of fraud. In May 2013, we learned that our long-time bookkeeper, Ms. Mary Dindic, was committing credit card fraud and forgery …
DDA Chen treated our embezzlement like a million dollar case. Quite frankly, we were surprised to see the amount of attention our situation received … He was thorough in his assimilation of the reports and binders of evidence we provided. He did not miss a single important detail …
DDA Chen sent a strong message that economic crimes are not tolerated in Santa Clara County … regardless of the dollar amount involved. It is encouraging to know that there are district attorneys of Mr. Chen’s caliber devoting their careers to protecting the public. All in all, this has been the best possible outcome from our unfortunate situation and we are indebted to Mr. Chen for his outstanding efforts on our behalf.”
Do you have questions about embezzlement? Give Prosperident a call at 888-398-2327 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Content retrieved from: http://jeffrosen.org/rosen-blog/2016/3/7/ha2ds2e4e5jxzijg4n7kc8bw45jz57
A former treasurer of a local Boy Scouts troop pleaded no contest Friday to embezzlement.
Julie Diane Klein was sentenced to a day in jail and three years of probation, according to Kern County Superior Court records.
Klein used her position as treasurer of Boy Scout Troop 80 and bookkeeper for her estranged husband’s dental business to accomplish the thefts, according to reports filed in court by Bakersfield police. Over two years, a total of $11,447 were written out by Klein in checks from the troop’s account to herself or “cash.”
Police say she then tried to pay bills from the overdrawn account by removing funds from her husband’s business account without his permission.
Content retrieved from: http://www.bakersfield.com/news/2012/04/28/former-boy-scouts-treasurer-pleads-no-contest-to-embezzlement.html
A Wheatland woman was sentenced Monday to three years in prison for embezzling thousands of dollars from a Yuba City doctor’s office.
Jo Ginia Moniz, 43, was sentenced by Sutter County Superior Court Judge Brian Aronson after pleading to a charge of grand theft.
“She got the strictest sentence she could get, so we’re satisfied,” said Dr. Bonita Hoskins, an orthodontist. “It’s been hanging over our heads for 2 1⁄2 years; it’s such a relief.”
Writing herself fraudulent checks and skimming cash from bank deposits, Moniz stole $104,000 from Hoskins and her husband, John, between January 2006 and November 2009, according to the Sutter County District Attorney’s Office.
Moniz was hired in 2001 and promoted to bookkeeper in 2005.
Another employee discovered the fraud and alerted the Hoskins in 2009.
Hoskins said she and her husband were “kind of shocked” when they learned their long-time employee had been stealing from them.
“She was a real confidence man,” Hoskins said. “We didn’t realize the extent of it at first.”
Moniz will serve her prison sentence in the Sutter County Jail as part of the state’s new prison realignment program.
“She continued and delayed everything for two years, so that’s what she received,” Hoskins said.
Sutter County Deputy District Attorney Clint Curry confirmed Moniz was sentenced under the parameters of Assembly Bill 109.
“It’s interesting, too, because the last case we had similar to this, the defendant also received three years, but actually had to serve her time in real prison,” Curry said.
Tiffany L. Lovell, 32, took more than $150,000, also from a Yuba City dentist, between 2005 and 2010.
Hoskins said she and her husband are putting the incident behind them.
Content retrieved from: http://www.appeal-democrat.com/wheatland-woman-sentenced-for-embezzling-k/article_6f0d4e9b-260b-5d3a-92d6-29497ff6dd4e.html
A woman who stole $72,000 from patients and doctors at dental offices where she worked was sentenced yesterday to five years and four months in prison.
Emily Marie Forbes, 48, pleaded guilty Sept. 1 in San Diego Superior Court to commercial burglary, false impersonation and two counts of stealing from an elderly person.
As part of her plea agreement, a recommendation was made that she be allowed to serve her sentence in a rehabilitation program for drug offenders.
Forbes was arrested Aug. 18 at Scripps Ranch Family Dentistry in San Diego, authorities said.
She was accused of stealing checks at five dental offices in El Cajon, Chula Vista and San Diego, and using patients’ personal information to open credit card accounts, according to El Cajon police.
She also instructed some patients to leave their checks blank, telling them she would stamp them with the name of the dental office, police said. Instead, she deposited the checks into her own account.
Deputy District Attorney Paul Greenwood said 11 victims are named in the complaint, some of whom are older than 65.
Saratoga Resident Sentenced To Two And A Half Years In Prison For Failing To Report Over $2.1 Million Of Income
SAN JOSE – Liping Liu was sentenced today to 30 months imprisonment, a $25,000 fine, and ordered to pay $744,248 in restitution for tax evasion, United States Attorney Melinda Haag and Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation, Special Agent in Charge José M. Martinez announced.
According to the plea agreement, Liu was the receptionist and office manager for her spouse’s pediatric dental and orthodontic practice. Liu created a tax evasion scheme in which she skimmed money from various sources, including rental properties and her spouse’s dental and orthodontic practice. Liu admitted that she knew her actions were against the law and she was evading the assessment and payment of federal taxes throughout the course of her scheme.
Liu evaded taxes by funneling money from her husband’s practice into various bank accounts to prevent those funds from appearing in the business bank accounts. The only funds deposited into the business bank accounts were insurance payments, aside from thirteen personal checks in 2006 and one personal check in 2009. Liu admitted that she deposited the insurance proceeds exclusively into the business accounts because she knew the insurance company reported these payments to the IRS. Liu further admitted that she offered a 10% discount to dental clients if they paid in cash or by check, as long as they left the payee section on the check blank. Liu also modified checks, in the memo and payee fields to disguise the source of the payment. This enabled her to deposit the checks into the non-business accounts and evade taxes.
In addition, according to her plea agreement, from 2006 through 2010, Liu was a 50% partner in a limited liability corporation, HSL, which was created to hold rental property. Liu diverted rental checks paid to HSL to non-business bank accounts for the purpose of evading taxes on the HSL entity. She also changed the payee information on numerous rental checks.
From 2006 through 2010, Liu omitted $2,147,741.04 in gross receipts. This resulted in additional tax due and owing of $744,248.
Liu also admitted to providing incomplete and false information to the family bookkeeper, and engaging in a series of structured cash transactions from September 2008 to September 2009, which allowed her to continue to hide taxes from the IRS.
Liu, 56, of Saratoga was charged on March 19, 2014, with one count of tax evasion. She pleaded guilty to the charge on March 24, 2014.
The sentence was handed down by the Honorable Ronald M. Whyte, United States District Court Judge, in San Jose. Judge Whyte also sentenced Liu to a three-year term of supervised release. The defendant was ordered to surrender on December 1, 2014.
Assistant United States Attorney Thomas Moore is prosecuting the case. The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation.
Content retrieved from: https://www.justice.gov/usao-ndca/pr/saratoga-resident-sentenced-two-and-half-years-prison-failing-report-over-21-million
Sumaria Love X23254, CIW, 16756 Chino Corona Road, Corona, CA, 92880-9508: Currently I prison in California and anxious to return to Georgia. I am lonely and desperate for a pen pal. Love to travel in the states & internationally. I enjoy reading, writing and would like to meet someone who can be an encourager, spiritual guide, teacher and friend. I am a Christian.
THE PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent,
SUMARIA LOVE, Defendant and Appellant.
Edmund G. Brown, Jr., Attorney General, Dane R. Gillette, Chief Assistant Attorney General, Michael P. Farrell, Assistant Attorney General, Janis Shank McClean and Tia M. Coronado, Deputy Attorneys General, for Plaintiff and Respondent.
DAVIS, Acting P. J.
A jury convicted defendant Sumaria Love of 15 counts of various identity theft-based offenses arising from abuse of her position of trust as a dental receptionist.
On appeal, defendant makes four claims: (1) her conviction in count eight of fraudulently using an access (credit) card was only an attempted offense; (2) the prohibition upon dual convictions for theft and receipt of the same property bars her from being convicted both of fraudulent use of an access card in count twelve and receiving stolen property in count fifteen; (3) her felony convictions in counts four, eight, twelve and thirteen must be reduced to misdemeanors because the jury never determined the amount taken; and (4) the trial court’s imposition of an upper-term sentence violated her rights to a jury trial and due process under the Fourteenth and Sixth Amendments.
The published portion of this opinion encompasses defendant’s first three claims and we agree with the latter two of them. Accordingly, we strike defendant’s conviction in count fifteen and remand the convictions in counts four, eight, twelve and thirteen for resentencing as misdemeanors. We disagree with defendant’s first claim. In the unpublished portion of this opinion, we reject defendant’s fourth claim.
Counts OneFour: Valentine’s Day Flowers
Defendant worked as a receptionist for dentist Hamid N. (Dr. Hamid) during February and March 2005. Rosa D. (Rosa), a patient of Dr. Hamid, noticed on her credit card statement a charge of $91.98 for flowers she had not ordered. An investigator determined that the purchase was made from Dr. Hamid’s office computer on Valentine’s Day, a date on which defendant worked. Defendant’s brother Larry Love testified that he had asked defendant to order the flowers on his behalf; they were delivered to a woman he was dating. Defendant admitted ordering the flowers in a recorded phone conversation with her mother.
Counts Five-Eight: Victoria’s Secret Gift Card
Another patient of Dr. Hamid, Sadiq M., discovered that someone had charged to his credit card a $500 Victoria’s Secret gift card without his knowledge or consent. Investigators traced the order, finding it had been *1296 placed on March 25, 2005, in Dr. Hamid’s name and listed his office address. The credit card company placed a hold on the purchase, preventing the gift card from being issued.
Counts Nine-Twelve, Fifteen: Laptop
Also on March 25, someone ordered a laptop computer and an Internet communication camera from Dr. Hamid’s office computer and paid for it with his credit card without his knowledge or consent. In April, after quitting her job with Dr. Hamid, defendant changed the address associated with the doctor’s credit card to a post office box belonging to her. Police discovered the laptop in defendant’s residence.
Count Thirteen: Postage Meter
After being fired from a subsequent dentist’s office for suspicion of dishonest conduct, defendant was hired by dentist Andrea S. She worked at Dr. Andrea’s office from October to December 2005. During the time she was employed by Dr. Andrea, defendant removed from Dr. Andrea’s office various items without permission, including a postage meter. Police located the postage meter at defendant’s residence.
Count Fourteen: Utilities Bill
Defendant also worked as a receptionist at Capital Oral Surgery from April 2004 to February 2005. During this time, she had access to personal patient information such as Social Security numbers and dates of birth. Nina A. took her son to Capital Oral Surgery to have his wisdom teeth removed in July 2004. In January 2006, Nina discovered someone had opened a utilities account in her name. The account listed Nina and defendant’s mother as account holders and serviced defendant’s address. Police subsequently located a billing statement in Nina’s name at defendant’s residence.
Defendant’s 15 convictions were comprised as follows. For the Valentine’s Day flowers (counts one-four), the Victoria’s Secret gift card (counts five-eight), and the laptop (counts nine-twelve), the jury convicted her of four felonies regarding each of these three items: identity theft (Pen. Code, § 530.5, subd. (a)); false personation (§ 529); fraudulent possession of an access card (§ 484e, subd. (d)); and fraudulent use of an access card (§ 484g, subd. (a)). Additionally, the jury convicted defendant of receiving the laptop as stolen property (count fifteen). (§ 496, subd. (a).) For the postage meter (count thirteen), she was convicted of embezzlement. (§ 508.) And for the *1297 utilities account (count fourteen), defendant was convicted of a fourth charge of identity theft. (§ 530.5, subd. (a).)
The jury did not make any findings as to the value of the property taken in counts four, eight, twelve, and thirteen.
1. Attempted Offense: Count Eight (Victoria’s Secret Gift Card)
Defendant contends that, because the credit card company cancelled the order and prevented the Victoria’s Secret gift card from being issued pursuant to her use of Sadiq’s credit card, her actions amounted to “at best” an attempted theft under section 484g, subdivision (a), and therefore there was insufficient evidence for the completed offense. We disagree.
(1)To determine whether count eight constitutes a completed or just an attempted offense of section 484g, subdivision (a), we must interpret that statute. “Our objective in interpreting a statute is to determine legislative intent so as to effectuate the law’s purpose. The first thing we do is read the statute, and give the words their ordinary meanings unless special definitions are provided. If the meaning of the words is clear, then the language controls; if not, we may use various interpretive aids.” (Schnyder v. State Bd. of Equalization (2002), 545 [124 Cal.Rptr.2d 571], fns. omitted.) (2) Here we find that the meaning of the pertinent words in section 484g, subdivision (a) is clear and the language controls.
Section 484g, subdivision (a) provides in relevant part: “Every person who, with the intent to defraud, (a) uses, for the purpose of obtaining money, goods, services, or anything else of value, an access card or access card account information that has been altered, obtained, or retained in violation of Section 484e or 484f [i.e., another person’s card or account information], or an access card which he or she knows is forged, expired, or revoked . . . is guilty of theft. . . .” (§ 484g, subd. (a).) This statute may be broken down into two elements: (1) that defendant “use” the access card or account information, and (2) that defendant do so “for the purpose of obtaining money, goods, services, or anything else of value.” (Ibid.)
The evidence at trial satisfied the first element of section 484g, subdivision (a)defendant “use[d]” the card. Merriam-Webster’s New Collegiate *1298 Dictionary defines “use” in such a context as “to put into action or service: avail oneself of: employ.” (Merriam-Webster’s 11th New Collegiate Dict. (2003) p. 1378.) Defendant “use[d]” or “put into . . . service” Sadiq’s access card information by entering it into an Internet Web page to place an order. The conduct described by the plain language of the statute is completed regardless of whether the object is obtained. To illustrate, we can say that a president may “use,” “put into . . . service,” or “employ” the military, regardless of whether he achieves his military goals.
The evidence also satisfied the second element that defendant’s “use” was “for the purpose of obtaining money, goods, services, or anything else of value.” The obvious and undisputed purpose behind entering Sadiq’s access card information into the Internet was to acquire the Victoria’s Secret gift card.
Because the evidence established both elements described plainly in section 484g, subdivision (a), we find there was sufficient evidence to convict defendant of the completed offense.
2. Dual Convictions: Counts Twelve and Fifteen (Laptop)
Defendant contends her convictions in counts twelve and fifteen violate the prohibition against dual convictions for theft and receipt of the same property. In count twelve, the jury convicted defendant of using Dr. Hamid’s credit card information for the purpose of obtaining money, goods, services, or anything else of value. (§ 484g, subd. (a).) These goods included a laptop computer. In count fifteen, the jury convicted her of receiving the same laptop computer as stolen property belonging to Dr. Hamid in count fifteen. (§ 496, subd. (a).) For the reasons stated below, we agree with defendant.
(3)Courts have long held that one cannot be charged for theft and receipt of the same property. The Legislature codified this common law” rule in section 496, subdivision (a), which states in pertinent part: “A principal in the actual *1299 theft of the property may be convicted pursuant to this section. However, no person may be convicted both pursuant to this section and of the theft of the same property.” (§ 496, subd. (a), 2d par.; see People v. Garza (2005) 35 Cal. 4th 866, 871 [28 Cal.Rptr.3d 335, 111 P.3d 310].)
Section 496 plainly applies when a defendant is convicted of “theft.” Section 484g, subdivision (a) is one of seven statutes imparting special statutory definitions of “theft” that apply in the context of access card offenses. (See §§484, 484d-484j.) Under section 484g, subdivision (a)’s plain language, a defendant is “guilty of theft,” if he or she “uses, for the purpose of obtaining money, goods, services, or anything else of value, an access card or access card account information that has been altered, obtained, or retained in violation of Section 484e or 484f [i.e., another person’s card or account information], or an access card which he or she knows is forged, expired, or revoked . . .” (§ 484g, subd. (a).) Considering that sections 496 and 484g, subdivision (a) are within the same statutory scheme and use the same term (“theft”), we presume that the Legislature intended section 496, subdivision (a), to apply to section 484g, subdivision (a). (Catholic Mutual Relief Society v. Superior Court(2007)
pan class=”citation” data-id=”2518864″>42 Cal. 4th 358, 371 [64 Cal.Rptr.3d 434, 165 P.3d 154].)
Because section 496 prohibits one from being convicted of both “theft” and receipt of the same property, we must determine what “property,” if any, is at issue when a defendant commits theft under section 484g, subdivision (a). By the plain language of the statute, there is only one reasonable conclusion: the “money, goods, services, or anything else of value” which formed the “purpose” behind defendant’s “use” of the access card. The Legislature plainly associates this list of property with the offense, and we presume the Legislature “`meant what it said.'” (People v. Snook (1997), 1217 [69 Cal.Rptr.2d 615, 947 P.2d 808].) Here, defendant used Dr. Hamid’s access card information for the purpose of stealing the laptop. Her conduct was always attached to the goal of receiving the laptop as property, and that is the property associated with her violation.
Applying our reasoning in part 1. of this opinion, the People contend that, because theft under section 484g, subdivision (a) may be completed even if defendant is not successful in obtaining the property, her subsequent receipt of the laptop constituted a second theft offense. Under section 496, the People maintain, the prosecutor had the discretion to charge this second offense as either theft or receipt of stolen property, and here, the prosecutor chose to charge it as receipt of stolen property.
*1300 We disagree. Whether defendant obtained the property or not, the two elements of the section 484g, subdivision (a) offense require an integration of the “use” with the “purpose” of obtaining particular “money, goods, services, or anything else of value.” When defendant supplied Dr. Hamid’s credit card information into the Internet, her purpose remained constantto obtain the laptop. While she may complete the section 484g, subdivision (a) theft offense without obtaining the laptop, should she obtain it, it is the “same property” involved in the theft.
Alternatively, the People contend that the “property” correlating to the theft was the monetary loss suffered by Dr. Hamid, and not the laptop. This cannot be the case. The statute requires that defendant use the card “for the purpose of obtaining” certain objects. Defendant used the card to obtain the laptop, not money.
(4)Because the laptop is the “same property” associated with defendant’s convictions of theft and receiving stolen property, section 496, subdivision (a), bars her dual conviction in count fifteen for receiving stolen property.
3. Counts Four, Eight, Twelve, and Thirteen As Misdemeanors Based on Amounts Taken Not Found
Defendant next contends that her convictions for grand theft in counts four, eight, twelve, and thirteen must be reduced to misdemeanors because the jury did not find that the value of the items obtained exceeded $400. The People have conceded the merit of this argument, and we agree.
In counts four, eight, and twelve (the Valentine’s Day flowers, Victoria’s Secret gift card, and laptop), the jury convicted defendant of grand theft under section 484g, subdivision (a). Section 484g provides, “If the value of all money, goods, services, and other things of value obtained in violation of this section exceeds four hundred dollars ($400) in any consecutive six-month period, then the same shall constitute grand theft.” Otherwise, the statute dictates the proper conviction as “petty theft,” a misdemeanor. (See §§ 484g, 488, 490.)
(5)In count thirteen (the postage meter), the jury convicted defendant of embezzlement, a form of theft, under section 508. (§ 490a.) Embezzlement is punishable as grand theft if the value of the property taken exceeds $400 (§ 487, subd. (a)) or “[w]here the . . . property is taken by a servant, agent, or employee from his or her principal or employer and aggregates four hundred dollars ($400) or more in any 12 consecutive month period.” (§ 487, subd. (b)(3).) Otherwise, it is punishable only as petty theft. (§ 488.)
*1301 In all four of these counts, the jury was required to determine the degree of the offense under section 1157, which provides: “Whenever a defendant is convicted of a crime or attempt to commit a crime which is distinguished into degrees, the jury … must find the degree of the crime or attempted crime of which he is guilty. Upon the failure of the jury … to so determine, the degree of the crime or attempted crime … shall be deemed to be of the lesser degree.” The People acknowledge that section 1157 applies to defendant’s case. The offenses of which defendant was convicted, sections 484g, subdivision (a), and 508, require that the jury make the determination of degree, based upon its finding whether the value of the property taken exceeded $400 or not.
Here, the jury made no findings as to the value of the items obtained. As for counts eight and twelve (Victoria’s Secret gift card and laptop), the trial court initially instructed the jury to make a finding as to the value of the property obtained by defendant’s fraudulent use of the access card information (CALCRIM No. 3220). However, the trial court withdrew this instruction following a question by the jury as to whether the property actually had to be received in order for a value to be placed upon it. The court gave no instruction to assess a value for count four (flowers) or count thirteen (postage meter).
Because the jury did not find that the value of the items obtained .exceeded $400 in counts four, eight, twelve, or thirteen, these felony convictions must be reduced to misdemeanors and defendant must be resentenced.
4. Imposition of Upper Term Sentence: Count One (Valentine’s Day Flowers)[*]
The convictions in counts four, eight, twelve, and thirteen are reduced to misdemeanors and remanded for resentencing. Defendant’s conviction in count fifteen is stricken.
*1302 In all other respects, the judgment is affirmed. After resentencing, the trial court is directed to send a certified copy of the amended abstract of judgment reflecting these changes to the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
Morrison, J., and Cantil-Sakauye, J., concurred.
Leopold Weinstein, a Camarillo dentist, pleaded guilty to three counts of felony arson in Ventura County Superior Court last week.
The plea comes a little more than a year after Weinstein, 64, was arrested on suspicion of trying to burn down two dental practices in the city on multiple occasions between June 2014 and January 2015.
Shortly after his arrest, the Moorpark resident pleaded not guilty to three counts of arson to a structure, three counts of attempted arson to a structure and possession of a silencer.
Weinstein was the owner of Dr. Leo, a dental practice that was part of the Spanish Hills Dental Group. The practice on Ponderosa Road is now closed.
The investigation by Ventura County sheriff’s detectives and Ventura County Fire Department investigators began in June 2014 when two containers of flammable liquid were found on the roof ofRosewood Dental Group on Mission Oaks Boulevard in Camarillo.
The incident was the first of several.
Fire and law enforcement investigators were called to a blaze later that month at Camarillo Dental Practice. In late July 2014 a second fire was reported at Rosewood Dental Group.
Rosewood Dental, a practice of five dentists, was targeted twice more as investigators found flammable liquids outside the office on Sept. 12 and 19 of 2014.
Investigators, who later learned his car had been seen at previous incidents, said they believed his motives were financial.
On Jan. 28, 2015, Rosewood was targeted again.
Investigators said surveillance footage showed Weinstein setting fire to the building.
He was arrested two days later after officials found additional evidence at his Moorpark home linking him to the crimes.
Prosecutors said Weinstein will be sentenced July 20.
Richard Simon, the senior deputy district attorney involved with the case, said he is pleased Weinstein “took responsibility for what he did.”
Simon, who praised the county sheriff’s office and police department for their thorough investigations, also shed some light on Weinstein’s motives.
“It’s a weird case,” he said. “This is a guy who has never had a criminal record, but gets this weird idea in his head that burning the practices would improve the billing practices or policies of the insurance companies. His explanation was that, if others suffered losses, they would band together against the insurance companies for the way they bill .”
The deputy district attorney said the defense is exploring “psychological issues” to save Weinstein from serving time in an effort to avoid a prison sentence.
William Haney, the attorney representing Weinstein, declined to comment on the plea.