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People v. Riley

California Court of Appeals, Fourth District, Second Division

July 21, 2015

THE PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent,
v.
JAMES WILLIAM RILEY et al., Defendants and Appellants.

[As modified July 31, 2015.]

APPEAL from the Superior Court of Riverside County, No. RIF10000395 Mac R. Fisher, Judge.

Page 1017

Reed Webb, under appointment by the Court of Appeal, for Defendant and Appellant James William Riley.

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Sarah A. Stockwell, under appointment by the Court of Appeal, for Defendant and Appellant Ryan Jay Robinson.

Kamala D. Harris, Attorney General, Dane R. Gillette, Chief Assistant Attorney General, Julie L. Garland, Assistant Attorney General, Arlene A. Sevidal, Collette Cavalier and Tami Falkenstein Hennick, Deputy Attorneys General, for Plaintiff and Respondent.

OPINION

McKINSTER, J.

Defendants and appellants James William Riley and Ryan Jay Robinson appeal their convictions on three counts each of commercial bribery, in violation of Penal Code section 641.3, subdivision (a).[1] The charges are based on the premise that Riley, who was the insurance broker for Pechanga Resort and Casino, paid bribes to Robinson, who was the chief financial officer of the casino, in order to permit Riley to charge excessive fees for insurance products he obtained for the casino.

On appeal, defendants assert that there is insufficient evidence that they acted “corruptly, ” i.e., with the specific intent to injure or defraud Robinson’s employer, as required by the statute. (§ 641.3, subds. (a), (d)(3).) They also assert, in response to our request for supplemental briefing, that there is insufficient evidence to support their convictions on two of the counts against each of them because the evidence showed that as of the date of those charged offenses, Robinson was no longer employed by Pechanga Resort and Casino.

We conclude that the evidence that Robinson was not employed by Pechanga Resort and Casino as of the dates alleged in counts 6 through 9 compels reversal of defendants’ convictions on those counts. However, we also conclude that there is substantial evidence to support their convictions on counts 4 and 5.

PROCEDURAL HISTORY

The grand jury indicted Riley and Robinson on three counts of grand theft (§ 487, subd. (a); counts 1-3) from Pechanga Resort and Casino, and indicted each of them on three counts of commercial bribery (§ 641.3, subd. (a); counts 4, 6, 8 (Riley) and 5, 7, 9 (Robinson)). As to each count of commercial bribery, the indictment alleged that the bribe paid or accepted was in excess of $1, 000. The grand jury also indicted Riley on three counts

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of money laundering. (§ 186.10, subd. (a); counts 10-12.) The indictment alleged that in count 12, the transaction exceeded $50, 000, within the meaning of section 186.10, subdivision (c)(1)(A), and alleged that both defendants committed two or more related felonies involving embezzlement as a material element and that the pattern of felonies involved the taking of more than $500, 000, within the meaning of section 186.11, subdivision (a)(2).

At defendants’ first trial, counts 2 and 3 were submitted to the jury only as to Riley. The jury was unable to return a verdict as to any count of the indictment. Upon motion by defendants, the trial court dismissed counts 1 through 3 and 10 through 12, as well as the special allegations related to those counts, in the interest of justice. The court cited insufficient evidence to support a finding of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The court set the remaining counts for retrial.

Following a second trial, Riley was found guilty on counts 4, 6 and 8, and Robinson was found guilty on counts 5, 7 and 9. The jury found true the allegations that each count involved a bribe in excess of $1, 000. As to Riley, the court imposed the lower term of one year four months on count 4 with consecutive terms of eight months on counts 6 and 8, and imposed associated fines and fees. As to Robinson, the court imposed the lower term of one year four months on count 5 with consecutive terms of eight months on counts 7 and 9, and imposed associated fines and fees. Each defendant filed a timely notice of appeal.

STATEMENT OF FACTS

Defendant James Riley had been a licensed commercial insurance broker since 1989. In 1996, while working for a firm called Austin Cooper and Price, he obtained the account of Pechanga Development Corporation (PDC).[2] He took the account with him when he left that firm and went to work for Dodge Warren and Peters. In 2002, he left Dodge Warren and Peters and opened his own firm, Riley Garrison and Associates (RGA). At that point, Riley was designated broker of record by Anthony Miranda, the PDC board member responsible for insurance matters. Miranda and Riley had known each other

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since junior high school, but Riley did not know that Miranda worked for PDC when he first sought the account in 1996.[3] Although he initially dealt with Miranda and the board on PDC insurance matters, after 2001 or 2002, he dealt with Robinson.

Approximately four years after Riley obtained the account, Robinson became the chief financial officer (CFO) for Pechanga Resort and Casino. (Hereafter sometimes “the casino.”) As CFO, Robinson was responsible for insurance for the casino. Robinson had worked for the casino for several ...


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