Recently, a Virginia appellate court affirmed convictions against a defendant who had been found guilty of credit card fraud and embezzlement. The court found that the guilty verdict was appropriate, even though the defendant argued in her appeal that there was not sufficient evidence to support a finding of guilt. In the opinion, the court wrote that the evidence was not lacking and that it provided enough details to support convictions for seven counts of credit card fraud and four counts of embezzlement.
The Facts of the Case
According to the court’s opinion, the defendant worked as a caretaker for a woman who suffered from physical incapacities and memory loss. The defendant came to the woman’s home several times a week starting in 2015 and assisted with housecleaning, grocery shopping, and other errands. Eventually, it came to Adult Protective Service’s attention that the woman’s two credit cards were consistently showing much higher balances than they had shown before the defendant was hired. One credit card, for example, that had a balance of approximately $3,000 in 2014, had increased to a $46,000 balance by the end of 2017. The extra charges revolved around purchases that the woman herself had no memory of making: there were charges, for example, for car repairs, jewelry, children’s clothing, lingerie, alcohol, and tattoos. At trial, the woman insisted she had not made the extra purchases shown on her credit cards.
There was also an issue over several allegedly fraudulent paychecks; the defendant would write the checks herself, and occasionally, on weeks when the defendant was on record as not having worked, she still received a paycheck. There were also nine dates on which the defendant was paid twice from different checking accounts for the same time period of work.
On appeal, the defendant argued there was not enough evidence to support a claim that she did not have permission to use the credit cards for the extra purchases. She also declared to the court that the additional checks she received were either repaid over time or were rightfully hers.
For several reasons, the court denied the defendant’s appeal. The court first looked at the nature of the credit card purchases. Because items were clearly purchased while the cards were in the defendant’s possession, and because the items were very different from what the card’s owners typically purchased, the court inferred that the defendant used the cards for her own personal use. Secondly, at trial, the card’s owners consistently denied ever giving the defendant permission to use the cards for her own personal purchases. The court viewed the card’s owner as a credible witness and believed her testimony regarding the use of her credit cards.
In terms of the extra checks made out to the defendant, the appellate court considered the defendant’s argument that the payments were made as loans that she later repaid. The court, however, found no evidence that these loans were repaid, or that there was any logical reason for the defendant to be paid twice for the same period of work on nine different occasions. The court thus concluded that the defendant was, indeed, guilty of embezzlement.
Were You Arrested for Fraud or Embezzlement in Virginia?
Many people are arrested on charges of fraud of embezzlement in Virginia, and there are often arguments that can be made to support a not-guilty verdict. If you have been convicted of a crime, make sure you have a team of lawyers on your side that knows how to bring in enough evidence to support your claims. At Robinson Law, we are ready to carefully build your case and make sure your voice is heard. With over 50 years of combined experience, we know the law and we are ready to use our expertise on your behalf. To schedule a free and confidential consultation, call us at 703-542-3616.