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State v. Franklin

January 31, 2005

STATE OF MINNESOTA, RESPONDENT,
v.
BARBARA ANN FRANKLIN, APPELLANT.



Ramsey County District Court File No. KX-03-1784.

Considered and decided by Peterson, Presiding Judge; Willis, Judge; and Hudson, Judge.

SYLLABUS BY THE COURT

A parent who has been appointed trustee of a trust established for the benefit of his or her child is not shielded from prosecution for theft by temporary control, in violation of Minn. Stat. § 609.52, subd. 2(5)(i) (2002), by virtue of his or her status as parent of the beneficiary. And a parent-trustee who gambles with funds that are intended for the child's trust account may be convicted of theft by temporary control.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Willis, Judge

Affirmed

OPINION

Appellant Barbara Ann Franklin challenges her conviction of theft by temporary control, in violation of Minn. Stat. § 609.52, subd. 2(5)(i) (2002). She argues (1) that venue in Ramsey County was improper; (2) that the evidence was legally insufficient to support her conviction; and (3) that the statute is unclear regarding the conduct prohibited, and therefore, its application to her actions violates her due-process rights. Because we find that venue in Ramsey County was proper and that the evidence demonstrates beyond a reasonable doubt that Franklin committed theft by temporary control, we affirm.

FACTS

The facts are undisputed. In December 1996, appellant Barbara Franklin's minor daughter, Delphina Griffin, was designated the sole surviving heir of her father, Darryl Griffin, when he died intestate. In November 2000, the Ramsey County Probate Court appointed Franklin trustee of a trust established for the benefit of Delphina Griffin for the protection and distribution of property and money from Darryl Griffin's estate. The probate court ordered Franklin to establish a trust account within 30 days after receiving any money or property from Griffin's estate and not to withdraw any funds from the trust account without court authorization.

In July 2001, the state issued an $18,000 check payable to "Franklin Barbara For Delphina L. Griffin Minor." The money came from a cashier's check that was payable to Darryl Griffin. Franklin cashed the check at the state treasurer's office in Ramsey County. She then gambled and lost most of the $18,000 at either Mystic Lake Casino or Treasure Island Casino.

In April 2002, Franklin wrote a letter to the probate court acknowledging that "[t]here are no excuses for what I did with the money for the trust fund for Delphina." Franklin also admitted in that letter that she did not have the money and that she has a gambling problem. In October 2002, the probate court sent a letter to an assistant Ramsey County attorney requesting a review of the case "for the purpose of filing criminal charges against [Franklin]." At the time of this request, no funds had been deposited into the trust.

In May 2003, Franklin was charged with theft by swindle, in violation of Minn. Stat. § 609.52, subd. 2(4) (2002). The complaint was later amended to add a charge of theft by temporary control, in violation of Minn. Stat. § 609.52, subd. 2(5)(i) (2002). Franklin waived her right to a jury trial and agreed to a trial on stipulated facts. The district court found that venue was proper, that Franklin was guilty of theft by temporary control, and that she was not guilty of theft by swindle. The district court stayed Franklin's sentence and placed her on probation for ten years. This appeal follows.

ISSUES

I. Was venue in Ramsey ...


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