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People v. Ramos

Court of Appeals of Colorado, Fourth Division

July 27, 2017

The People of the State of Colorado, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
Angelita Sue Ramos, Defendant-Appellant.

         Adams County District Court No. 14CR3348 Honorable Patrick T. Murphy, Judge

          Cynthia H. Coffman, Attorney General, Patrick A. Withers, Assistant Attorney General, Denver, Colorado, for Plaintiff-Appellee

          Todd Mair Law LLC, Todd E. Mair, Denver, Colorado, for Defendant-Appellant

          OPINION

          HAWTHORNE JUDGE.

          ¶ 1 Defendant, Angelita Sue Ramos, appeals her conviction for theft. Her argument presents an issue of first impression: Is the prosecution required to prove all thefts aggregated and charged in a single count under section 18-4-401(4)(a), C.R.S. 2016, to obtain a conviction? We answer this question yes in Part III, vacate the conviction, and remand with directions to enter a judgment of conviction on a lesser included offense.

         I. Facts

         ¶ 2 Defendant was the treasurer of the Bennett Elementary School Parent, Teacher, and Student Association (PTSA). In 2013, the PTSA held the Believe Fundraiser, which involved students selling items from a catalogue. Defendant deposited the proceeds from these sales into the PTSA's bank account. After the fundraiser, the PTSA secretary asked defendant how much money she had deposited into the organization's bank account. Defendant responded by text message that she had deposited $19, 760.65. The secretary later discovered that only $16, 473.21 had actually been deposited. When asked about the discrepancy, defendant said, "I'm so sorry this happened. Is there any way I can make it right?"

          ¶ 3 Defendant was charged with seven counts of theft and seven counts of forgery. She was acquitted of all charges except for Count 5 - Theft (two or more within six months).

         ¶ 4 The verdict form for Count 5 required the jury to find whether defendant was guilty of "Theft (two or more within six months)" for cash taken from three different fundraisers and instructed the jury to then answer three interrogatories:

1.Did the defendant commit theft of money from the Fall 2013 Believe Fundraiser?__ Yes__ No
2.Did the defendant commit theft of money from the October 2013 Scholastic Book Fair?__ Yes__ No
3.Did the defendant commit theft of money from the December 2013 Santa Workshop?__ Yes__ No

         ¶ 5 The jury found defendant guilty of Count 5, but it answered yes to only the Believe Fundraiser interrogatory. The court sentenced her to eighteen months of probation and ordered her to pay $3850.57 in restitution.

         II. Sufficiency of the Evidence

         ¶ 6 Defendant contends that the evidence was insufficient to convict her of theft from the Believe Fundraiser. We disagree. A. Standard of Review and Applicable Law

         ¶ 7 We review the record de novo to determine whether the evidence before the jury was sufficient both in quantity and quality to sustain a conviction. Clark v. People, 232 P.3d 1287, 1291 (Colo. 2010). In determining this, we use the substantial evidence test. Id. That test requires us to determine whether the evidence, viewed as a whole and in the light most favorable to the prosecution, is sufficient for a reasonable person to conclude that the defendant is guilty of the crimes charged beyond a reasonable doubt. Id. We must give the prosecution the benefit of every reasonable inference that may fairly be drawn from the evidence. Dempsey v. People, 117 P.3d 800, 807 (Colo. 2005).

         ¶ 8 "A person commits theft when he or she knowingly obtains, retains, or exercises control over anything of value of another without authorization" and "[i]ntends to deprive the other person permanently of the use or benefit of the thing of value." § 18-4-401(1)(a). Theft is a "class 6 felony if the value of the thing involved is two thousand dollars or more but less than five thousand dollars." § 18-4-401(2)(f).

         B. Analysis

         ¶ 9 Defendant argues that the jury was presented with no credible evidence that any funds were unlawfully misappropriated from the Believe Fundraiser and that the jury was given no basis other than speculation to determine the amount of money missing.

         ¶ 10 We conclude that the evidence, when viewed in the light most favorable to the prosecution, was sufficient for a reasonable person to conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that defendant committed theft ...


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