(Super. Ct. Nos. MF032816A, MF032816B)
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Butz , J.
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 This opinion has not been certified for publication or ordered published for purposes of rule 8.1115.
This case comes to us pursuant to People v. Wende (1979) 25 Cal.3d 436 (Wende). The case involved a 19-day jury trial with two married defendants and over 100 exhibits, presided over by the Honorable Seth R. Hoyt, Jr. We commend Judge Hoyt as, having reviewed the lengthy record as required by Wende, we find no arguable error in favor of defendants and, with only minor corrections to the abstracts of judgment, we shall affirm the judgment.
We provide the following brief description of the facts and procedural history of the case. (See People v. Kelly (2006) 40 Cal.4th 106, 110, 124.)
Rose Souza, the victim of elder theft in this case, testified at trial. She was born in October 1930. She worked as an accounting technician at the Sharpe Army Depot in Manteca for 31 years. She never married, and lived with her sister Gloria at a home they owned in Manteca. Souza inherited her sister's estate when Gloria died in 1999. In 2005, Souza had assets in excess of $1,000,000.
Souza had a stroke in November 2005, causing her to lose her ability to speak for awhile, and leaving her confined to a wheelchair. She could no longer live on her own or manage her affairs, so she went to live with her niece, defendant Renee Woolf (Renee), Woolf's husband, co-defendant Jerry Woolf, Jr., (Jerry)*fn1 and their two children in April 2006. Before Souza moved in with defendants, her annual income, derived from her pension, social security, and interest on investments, was between $25,000 and $50,000. Souza would keep a good track of her finances and lived within her means.
Souza's expenditures rose after she started living with defendants. Her 2006 federal tax return showed an adjusted gross income of $56,258. Her income in her 2007 federal return was $52,158. The federal tax return for 2008 showed a $190,111 income, and the 2009 return showed an income of $243,300.
A forensic accountant analyzed Souza's expenditures between December 2004 and December 2009. Souza's expenditures started increasing dramatically starting in January 2006. Sums between $25,000 and $16,000 were transferred from Souza's savings account to her checking account. Investments were cashed in and transferred to her checking account, such as sums of $59,000, $43,000, and $31,000 in March 2007. A total of $1,045,279.55 was transferred into the account and $1,034,481.71 went out of the account during this period. During this time, Souza received $10, 996 in social security payments and $101,845.41 from her pension. Defendants' daughter received checks from Souza, totaling $14,550 during this time; their son, $36,900; Jerry, $15,100; and Renee received 106 checks from Souza, totaling $184,967. A total of $450,000 was transferred from Souza's savings account to her checking account.
During this time, $292,875.92 was paid on two credit card accounts in Souza's name. Among the credit card charges were a total of $78,743.93 spent on automobile-related expenditures, $29,968.35 on health and beauty items, $33,145.29 on travel, $46,000 on retail purchases, and $38,969.38 on education for defendants' children and for Jerry's business. Checks from Souza's account were the primary source of funds for an account maintained by defendants to pay their household expenditures, including their mortgage.
Souza stated that she authorized at least some of the purchases from her funds, including a motor home and a speed boat for defendants and their family. She "probably" bought the motor home for them because they were taking care of her. She never gave defendants or their family permission to use her credit cards. No one ever told her that most of her money is gone.
Steven Pierce was once friends with Jerry; his girlfriend worked for defendants and defendants rented a home from them between July 2005 and August 2009. At the time Souza moved into defendants' home, Pierce heard both defendants say that Souza had over $1.2 million. He heard Renee say that she ...