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The People v. Daniel Aldana et al

June 13, 2012

THE PEOPLE, PLAINTIFF AND RESPONDENT,
v.
DANIEL ALDANA ET AL., DEFENDANTS AND APPELLANTS.



Appeals from judgments of the Superior Court of Riverside County, Stephen D. Cunnison, Judge. (Super. Ct. No. RIF111207)

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Fybel, J.

Opinion on transfer from Supreme Court

CERTIFIED FOR PUBLICATION

OPINION

Reversed with directions.

INTRODUCTION

Defendants Daniel Aldana and Donna Matney were each charged with two counts of grand theft, and one count each of misappropriation of public funds, knowingly keeping false accounts, and altering public records. A jury acquitted Aldana of all but one count. The jury was unable to reach a verdict as to one count against Matney, and similarly acquitted her of all but one of the remaining counts against her. The jury also found not true all sentencing enhancements alleged against Aldana and Matney.

Aldana and Matney separately appeal their convictions for violating subpart 3 of Penal Code section 424, subdivision (a), which prohibits those charged with control over the expenditure of public moneys from keeping false accounts or making false entries in accounts.*fn1 Matney, a hospital administrator, had hired Aldana to perform administrative services at a county hospital, in addition to his regular duties as a physician at the same hospital. Matney obtained Aldana's signature on blank timesheets (each of which covered a two-week time period), estimated and averaged the number of hours Aldana performed administrative duties, and prepared and signed Aldana's timesheets, thereby authorizing Aldana's paychecks. The timesheets did not accurately reflect the hours Aldana worked for the county on each individual day during the two-week period, although the evidence showed, and the Attorney General does not dispute, Aldana worked many more hours than he was paid for or than were listed on his timesheets.

In our original opinion, we concluded there was insufficient evidence to support Aldana's conviction on the single count because, under the relevant statute, Aldana was not an "officer of this state, or of any county, city, town, or district of this state, [or a] person charged with the receipt, safekeeping, transfer, or disbursement of public moneys." (§ 424(a).) Additionally, there was insufficient evidence Aldana knowingly kept a false account or knowingly made a false entry on his timesheets. Therefore, we reversed the judgment against Aldana.

We further concluded the prosecution was required to prove that Matney had knowledge her actions constituted criminal conduct, or that she was criminally negligent in lacking such knowledge. Because proof of Matney's guilty knowledge was insufficient, we reversed the judgment against her.*fn2

The California Supreme Court granted review, and transferred the case back to us for reconsideration in light of its opinion in Stark v. Superior Court (2011) 52 Cal.4th 368 (Stark). At our request, the parties filed supplemental briefs addressing the effect of Stark on this case.

As to Aldana, the Attorney General concedes that our original conclusion was not affected by the Supreme Court's opinion in Stark. Therefore, we again hold the judgment against Aldana must be reversed.

As to Matney, the evidence shows the timesheets, as a whole, were not materially false. There is no evidence that any public moneys were misused, lost, misappropriated, or placed at risk, or that anyone was unjustly enriched by virtue of the timesheets. The evidence shows the county paid Aldana less than he was owed for the number of hours he worked. Therefore, we hold there ...


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