from Seneca County Common Pleas Court Trial Court No.
A. Davey for Appellant.
Stephanie J. Reed for Appellee.
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.
and Statement of the Case
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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: