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State v. Stuward

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Third District, Seneca

May 22, 2017

STATE OF OHIO, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
PATRICIA STUWARD, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.

         Appeal from Seneca County Common Pleas Court Trial Court No. 16-CR-0019

          James A. Davey for Appellant.

          Stephanie J. Reed for Appellee.

          OPINION

          ZIMMERMAN, J.

         {¶1} Defendant-Appellant Patricia Stuward ("Stuward") appeals her September 14, 2016 convictions from the Seneca Court of Common Pleas of one count of theft from an elderly person, one count of attempted theft from an elderly person, and one count of telecommunications fraud, all felonies of the third degree. Stuward alleges that the trial court erred by failing to merge the telecommunications fraud conviction with her theft from an elderly person and attempted theft from an elderly person convictions. For the reasons that follow, we affirm.

         Facts and Statement of the Case

         {¶2} On November 24th, 2015, Ms. Veda Joyce Kidd ("Ms. Kidd"), then 74 years old, began communicating with a person whom Ms. Kidd believed was General Gary Patten ("General Patten") via Facebook Messenger. During the course of their exchanges, approximately two to three times a day, Ms. Kidd was led to believe that General Patten was in love with her and they were going to get married. General Patten also told Ms. Kidd that he was going to receive $800, 000 from the United Nations because he cleared a drug ring in Syria. General Patten informed Ms. Kidd that he would send her the money if she provided him with her full name, address, phone number, and date of birth. General Patten also informed Ms. Kidd that the money he was to receive would be sent to her home.

         {¶3} In January of 2016, Ms. Kidd was contacted by Stuward, identifying herself as "Fatima, " who indicated that she represented the agent assigned to deliver General Patten's "two packages of money" to Ms. Kidd. Stuward informed Ms. Kidd that she was going to have the packages delivered to Ms. Kidd's home, but needed $16, 000 to "clear the packages at the port." Stuward was in phone contact with Ms. Kidd daily and arranged to visit Ms. Kidd's home to personally pick up the $16, 000 port fee. Based on Stuward's demands, Ms. Kidd cashed in her annuities to pay the requested "fees."

         {¶4} On January 8, 2016, Stuward, still under the guise of Fatima, went to Ms. Kidd's home along with Sampson Cojolo ("Cojolo") to pick up Ms. Kidd's money. Ms. Kidd delivered the $16, 000 to Stuward and Cojolo as directed. Thereafter, Stuward and Cojolo told Ms. Kidd they were leaving to pick up her money at the port. Approximately three hours later Stuward and Cojolo returned to Ms. Kidd's home with a safe containing paper that would turn into money when sprayed with a special solution. However, Stuward and Cojolo did not have enough solution to process all of the paper in the safe and requested that Ms. Kidd give them more money to obtain more solution.

         {¶5} Ms. Kidd agreed to pay Stuward and Cojolo $45, 000 for the additional solution and applied for a home equity loan. However, after applying for the loan Ms. Kidd became suspicious of the request and contacted the police.

         {¶6} The Fostoria Police Department advised Ms. Kidd to stay in contact with Stuward. Stuward continued to phone Ms. Kidd regularly to determine if she had the extra money. Stuward eventually requested Ms. Kidd to obtain more than $45, 000. In response, Ms. Kidd informed Stuward that she could get $53, 000 by January 22, 2016. On January 21, 2016 Stuward contacted Ms. Kidd to confirm she would pick up the $53, 000 the following day. After more phone calls by Stuward to Ms. Kidd, Stuward and Cojolo went to Ms. Kidd's residence on January 22, 2016, where they were arrested by law enforcement upon their arrival.

         Procedural History

         {¶7} On February 17, 2016 Stuward was indicted on three different counts by the Seneca County Grand Jury: Count One, Theft from an Elderly Person, in violation of R.C. 2913.02(A)(3), (B)(3), a felony of the third degree; Count Two, Attempted Theft from an Elderly Person, in violation of R.C. 2923.02(A), (E)(1) and R.C. 2913.02(A)(3), (B)(3), a felony of the third degree; and Count Three, Telecommunications Fraud, in violation of R.C. 2913.05(A), (C), a felony of the third degree. The case proceeded to a jury trial on September 13, 2016 and on September 14, 2016, Stuward was found guilty of all three charges. On October 25, 2016 the trial court sentenced Stuward to eighteen (18) months in prison on each of the three counts, ordering all counts to be served consecutive to each other for a total term of imprisonment of fifty-four (54) months. Stuward now appeals, and presents one assignment of error for our review:

         ASSIGNMENT ...


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