COA returns housewares theft case to trial court

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A department store sales clerk who was convicted of two counts of theft is entitled to a rebate on her convictions and restitution amount, the Indiana Court of Appeals has ruled.

The Court of Appeals reversed and remanded Natasha Hill’s dual convictions for theft and her restitution order for $2,526,83 in Natasha R. Hill v. State of Indiana, 49A05-1407-CR-314. Under the ruling, the Marion Superior Court must vacate the restitution order as well as vacate one of Hill’s convictions and amend the sentence.

Hill, a clerk at Macy’s, was caught after she conspired with a friend to process phony returns in order to take money and housewares from the retailer. She was convicted at a bench trial of two counts of theft, both Class D felonies, for illegally taking money and property from the store.

At sentencing, the trial court reduced Hill’s convictions as allowed by the alternative misdemeanor sentencing statute and ordered concurrent one-year sentences to be suspended to probation. Also, the court ordered Hill pay restitution.

On appeal, the COA found Hill’s twin theft convictions violated the single larceny rule. The totality of her theft occurred at the same cash register during the same transaction which constitutes a single offense. The unanimous panel ruled Hill could only be convicted on one count of theft.

In addition, the court overturned the restitution order because it was not totally based on an actual loss.

When Macy’s loss prevention officers confronted Hill, she admitted to stealing other items during past incidents. She then signed a promissory note agreeing to pay for all the products she took including losses from allegations of theft unrelated to her convictions.

The Court of Appeals held the restitution order was improperly based on uncharged act and was not based on evidence of an actual loss suffered by Macy’s.


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