Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eleventh District, Lake
Appeal from the Lake County Court of Common Pleas. Case No.
2015 CR 000211.
Charles E. Coulson, Lake County Prosecutor, and Anna C.
Kelley, Assistant Prosecutor, Lake County Administration
Building, 105 Main Street, P.O Box 490, Painesville, OH 44077
N. Farinacci, 65 North Lake Street, Madison, OH 44057 (For
TIMOTHY P. CANNON, JUDGE.
Appellant, Patricia M. Minich, appeals from the judgment
entry of sentence issued by the Lake County Court of Common
Pleas on June 24, 2016, following a jury trial, sentencing
appellant to nine and one-half years in prison on various
charges of theft, grand theft, and identity fraud. For the
reasons that follow, the trial court's judgment is
Appellee, the state of Ohio, brought two separate indictments
against appellant on September 18, 2015, and February 12,
2016, charging her with a total of 28 felony counts. After
various amendments were made to these indictments, the cases
were consolidated, and four counts were dismissed; 24 counts
were renumbered and prosecuted at trial.
Appellant was charged with multiple violations of R.C.
2913.02(A), which provides: "No person, with purpose to
deprive the owner of property or services, shall knowingly
obtain or exert control over either the property or services
in any of the following ways: * * * (2) Beyond the scope of
the express or implied consent of the owner or person
authorized to give consent; [or] (3) By deception[.]"
Specifically, appellant was charged with eight counts of
Grand Theft in violation of (A)(2) (Counts 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 15,
17, 19); eight counts of Grand Theft in violation of (A)(3)
(Counts 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 16, 18, 20); three counts of Theft in
violation of (A)(2) (Counts 11, 13, 21); and three counts of
Theft in violation of (A)(3) (Counts 12, 14, 22). Each Grand
Theft count was charged as a fourth-degree felony, the value
of the property or services being $7, 500 or more but less
than $150, 000. See R.C. 2913.02(B)(2). Each Theft
count was charged as a fifth-degree felony, the value of the
property or services being $1, 000 or more but less than $7,
500. See id. The victims of Counts 1-16 were alleged
to be "Karyn E. Engel and/or Richard A. Engel and/or
Jackson Hewitt"; the victim of Counts 17-22 was alleged
to be the state of Ohio.
Appellant was also charged with one count of Identity Fraud
Against a Person in a Protected Class, in violation of R.C.
2913.49(B)(1), a felony of the second degree (Count 23); and
one count of Forgery, in violation of R.C. 2913.31(A)(3), a
felony of the third degree (Count 24). The victim of these
two offenses was alleged to be Richard A. Engel, an elderly
person at the time of the offenses, to wit: between 66 and 68
years of age.
The charges stem from appellant's employment with Karyn
and Richard Engel, who own multiple Jackson Hewitt franchises
located throughout northeast Ohio. Appellant began working
for the Engels in 2002 as a tax preparer, then worked as a
branch manager, and finally as the general manager of the
franchises. The charges allege that appellant stole nearly
$200, 000 from the Engels and/or their franchises, between
January 1, 2007, and July 30, 2014, by misappropriating cash
funds and using company credit cards and bank accounts to pay
for personal expenses without the Engels' consent. The
charges also allege that appellant stole unemployment
compensation benefits from the state of Ohio while working
for the Engels and that she forged Richard Engel's
signature on forms she submitted to receive the stolen
At trial, the state established that as a result of these
offenses, Chase Credit Card Services absorbed $76, 978.96 of
the unauthorized credit card charges; the Engels and/or their
Jackson Hewitt franchises lost an additional $122, 588.75;
and the state lost $26, 966.00.
The jury found appellant not guilty of Counts 2, 4, 6, 8, 10,
12, 14, and 16.
The jury returned a verdict of guilty on eleven violations of
R.C. 2913.02(A)(2): four were fifth-degree Theft felonies
(Counts 1, 11, 13, 21), and seven were fourth-degree Grand
Theft felonies (Counts 3, 5, 7, 9, 15, 17, 19). The jury also
returned a verdict of guilty on three violations of R.C.
2913.02(A)(3): one was a fifth-degree Theft felony (Count
22), and two were fourth-degree Grand Theft felonies (Counts
18, 20). Finally, the jury returned verdicts of guilty on
Count 23, Identity Fraud Against a Person in a Protected
Class, a second-degree felony in violation of R.C.
2913.49(B)(1), and on Count 24, Forgery, a third-degree
felony in violation of R.C. 2913.31(A)(3).
For purposes of sentencing, the trial court merged Counts 1,
3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, and 15, all of which had been committed
against the Engels and/or their Jackson Hewitt franchises.
The trial court found these offenses required merger,
pursuant to R.C. 2913.61(C)(1), which provides, in pertinent
part: "When a series of offenses under [R.C. 2913.02] is
committed by the offender in the offender's same
employment, capacity, or relationship to another, all of
those offenses shall be tried as a single offense." The
trial court also merged Counts 17 and 18, Counts 19 and 20,
and Counts 21 and 22, all of which had been committed against
the state of Ohio. Finally, the trial court merged Counts 23
and 24, which had been committed against Richard Engel, an
elderly person ...