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Commonwealth v. Gorman

Superior Court of Pennsylvania

March 26, 2018

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, Appellee
v.
PATRICK GORMAN, Appellant

          Appeal from the Judgment of Sentence Entered April 7, 2016 In the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County Criminal Division at No(s): CP-02-CR-0003667-2015

          BEFORE: BENDER, P.J.E., STEVENS, P.J.E. [*] , and STRASSBURGER, J. [**]

          OPINION

          BENDER, P.J.E.

         Appellant, Patrick Gorman, appeals from the judgment of sentence of 11½ to 23 months' incarceration, followed by 5 years' probation, imposed after he was convicted of theft and related offenses. Appellant solely challenges the sufficiency of the evidence to sustain his convictions. After careful review, we affirm.

         On April 24, 2015, a criminal information was filed against Appellant, charging him with two counts of theft by unlawful taking, 18 Pa.C.S. § 3921(a); one count of receiving stolen property, 18 Pa.C.S. § 3925(a); and two counts of misapplication of entrusted property, 18 Pa.C.S. § 4113(a). These charges stemmed from Appellant's creating a veteran's honor guard that appeared at numerous funerals, and then mishandling and misusing donations provided to that honor guard. Appellant waived his right to a jury trial and proceeded to a non-jury trial on January 6, 2016. On January 12, 2016, the court convicted Appellant of the above-stated charges. On April 7, 2016, Appellant was sentenced to the terms of incarceration and probation stated supra, as well as restitution in the amount of $44, 312.93.

         Appellant filed a timely notice of appeal, and he also timely complied with the trial court's order to file a Pa.R.A.P. 1925(b) concise statement of errors complained of on appeal. Herein, Appellant raises the following issues for our review:

1. The evidence was insufficient to support Theft by Unlawful Taking (Counts 1 and 2), as the government failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt [that Appellant]:
(a) took or exercised control over certain property, namely money and/or checks, belonging to the American Legion Post 935 and/or 1810,
(b) taking or exercising control over certain property, namely money and/or checks, was unlawful because the money and/or checks were not intended for the use and/or benefit of the American Legion Post 935 and/or 1810, and/or
(c) intended - that is, it was his conscious object - to deprive American Legion Post 935 and/or 1810 of the use and benefit of certain property, namely money and/or checks.
2. The evidence was insufficient to support Receiving Stolen Property (Count 3), because the government failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that:
(a) the property, namely money and/ or checks, was in fact stolen from the American Legion Post 935 and/or 1810, and/or
(b) [Appellant] received, retained or disposed of the property knowing or believing it had in fact been stolen from the American Legion Post 935 and/or 1810.
3. The evidence was insufficient to support Misapplication of Entrusted Property (Counts 4 and 5), as the Government failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt:
(a) certain property, namely money and/or checks, was entrusted to [Appellant] for the use and benefit of another, or
(b) [Appellant] applied or disposed of the property in a manner he knew was unlawful and involved substantial risk of detriment to the owner or the person for whose benefit the property was entrusted.

         Appellant's Brief at 3.

         We begin by setting forth our well-settled standard of review:

In reviewing a sufficiency of the evidence claim, we must determine whether the evidence admitted at trial, as well as all reasonable inferences drawn therefrom, when viewed in the light most favorable to the verdict winner, are sufficient to support all elements of the offense. Commonwealth v. Moreno, 14 A.3d 133 (Pa. Super. 2011). Additionally, we may not reweigh the evidence or substitute our own judgment for that of the fact finder. Commonwealth v. Hartzell, 988 A.2d 141 (Pa. Super. 2009). The evidence may be entirely circumstantial as long as it links the accused to the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. Moreno, supra at 136.

Commonwealth v. Koch, 39 A.3d 996, 1001 (Pa. Super. 2011).

         Next, we provide the definitions of the three offenses for which Appellant was convicted. First, Appellant was convicted of two counts of theft by unlawful taking, both graded as felonies of the third degree. "A person is guilty of theft if he unlawfully takes, or exercises unlawful control over, movable property of another with intent to deprive him thereof." 18 Pa.C.S. § 3921(a). "[T]heft constitutes a ...


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