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The People v. Jennifer Patterson

September 14, 2012


(Super. Ct. No. SF089866A)

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

P. v. Patterson CA3


California Rules of Court, rule 8.1115(a), prohibits courts and parties from citing or relying on opinions not certified for publication or ordered published, except as specified by rule 8.1115(b). This opinion has not been certified for publication or ordered published for purposes of rule 8.1115.

Following a jury trial, defendant Jennifer Patterson was convicted of embezzlement. (Pen. Code, § 487, subd. (b)(3).)*fn1 The jury also found true the enhancement allegation that she took property valued at over $65,000. (§ 12022.6, subd. (a)(1).) In addition to her prison sentence, defendant was ordered to pay $150,000 in direct victim restitution. On appeal, defendant contends there was insufficient evidence to support the true finding that she stole more than $65,000 and the trial court abused its discretion in ordering her to pay $150,000 in direct victim restitution. We conclude the reasonable inferences drawn from the evidence provide substantial evidence supporting the enhancement allegation. Furthermore, we conclude there is a rational and factual basis for the restitution award. Accordingly, we affirm the judgment.


In 1993, defendant was hired as the office manager for Don and Nita Rienhart*fn2 at their charter bus service, Delta Charter (Delta). As office manager, defendant had a wide range of responsibilities including overseeing the company's income and making bank deposits. Among the services offered by Delta was special operations bus order (SOBO). Delta required passengers to pay for SOBOs in cash, although a few regular customers were allowed to pay by check. When there were not enough passengers on the trip, the run would be cancelled. Occasionally, for promotional purposes, some passengers were given complementary passes for the trip. Also, SOBO trips were logged by the driver, indicating the date, destination, and number of passengers on the bus. At the end of the trip, the driver turned in the cash to the office in an envelope. Defendant was the only employee in the office to open the envelopes containing the SOBO cash and was responsible for reconciling the cash turned in with the drivers' work logs.

In 1997, Lisa Woolen was hired to help in the office. After about two years, Woolen noticed that when SOBO money came in, defendant would shred the envelope and place the cash in her desk drawer. Defendant would later count the cash, prepare a deposit slip, and have Woolen deposit it in defendant's personal bank account. Initially, Woolen seldom made these deposits. But, in 2001 and 2002, she made the cash deposits to defendant's account almost daily. Defendant did not have Woolen deposit all of the cash, she put some of the cash directly in her purse. Defendant explained the money was to reimburse her for expenditures she had made on the company's behalf.

Defendant also would tell Don that SOBO trips had been cancelled when they had not been. The cash from SOBO runs was deposited into Delta's account only when Don was aware that a SOBO trip had gone.

At the beginning of 2002, the Rienharts' accountant, Percy Campbell, questioned defendant about the lack of SOBO cash. Defendant told him there was no more SOBO cash because the casinos were paying for the trips.

Becoming suspicious about the large amount of money and the increasing frequency of the deposits, Woolen began recording when she made the deposits. She also kept the drivers' logs for the SOBO trips. From June 14, 2001, through November 26, 2002, Woolen deposited $58,475 in cash from SOBO trips into defendant's account. Woolen believed defendant was stealing the SOBO cash and expressed her concerns to the Rienharts in a letter. Woolen advised the Rienharts that her records suggested, between June 14, 2001, and November 26, 2002, defendant had stolen almost $59,000. She attached her records to the letter and noted, "[t]here was a lot more before June 14, 2001. This is just the date I started to keep records."

Don and Nita investigated the matter further. Woolen provided them with the drivers' logs, work orders, and deposit receipts for November and December 2002. Woolen also gave them copies of defendant's bank deposits.

For the month of November 2002 and the first half of December 2002, $11,000 in cash was missing and had apparently been deposited in defendant's personal account. Don estimated approximately $10,000 per month was received in cash, but not deposited into Delta's accounts. Nita estimated no more than 10 percent of Delta's income derived from cash payments. Don estimated the income generated by SOBO trips represented between 8 and 11 percent of Delta's gross receipts. The gross receipts before any deduction for missing SOBO cash were $1,033,779 in 2001 and were $870,271 in 2002.

Nita confronted defendant about stealing the money. Defendant denied the accusation, but upon Nita's request, resigned. Don and Nita attempted to calculate the amount of cash missing for the years 2001 and 2002. They examined drivers' logs from the SOBO runs, multiplied the number of passengers by the fare and deducted the amount of cash that had been deposited. They determined that $139,200 was missing from the 2001 runs and $98,291 from the 2002 ...

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