Wednesday, November 13, 2013
C.A. Upholds Ex-Coach’s Conviction of Theft From College
By a MetNews Staff Writer
The conviction of the former Ventura College men’s basketball coach for misappropriation of public funds and grand theft by embezzlement has been upheld by this district’s Court of Appeal.
Div. Six, in an unpublished opinion by Justice Steven Z. Perren, rejected defendant Greg Loren Winslow’s contention that the lower court committed reversible error by not instructing the jury on scienter. The defense argued that the prosecution was required to prove the defendant’s knowledge that he was not authorized to make certain expenditures.
Winslow admitted to having written checks for unauthorized expenditures, but said he intended to reimburse the college.
The appellate court did, however, overturn Winslow’s conviction for neglecting to pay over public money. The prosecution conceded that Winslow did not qualify as an officer within the meaning of Penal Code Sec. 425 because he was a mere employee, and not a person who had been delegated some portion of the sovereign functions of government.
Winslow, hired in 1999 as head coach of the Ventura College Pirates’ basketball team, was appointed co-athletic director in 2004.
Prosecutors presented evidence that Winslow, former co-Athletic Director Nancy Fredrickson, and former Dean of Athletics Steven Tobias formalized a procedural policy for the procurement, holding, and disbursement of donations to the various athletic programs. All donations were to be considered property of the Ventura County Community College District.
In addition to his duties at the college, Winslow coached his son’s youth basketball team, the V-Town Pirates. In 2003, he opened a bank account at the Commerce County Bank seemingly for the benefit of the V-Town Pirates.
From November 2003 to April 2008, the prosecution argued, Winslow deposited nearly $85,000 into the account, about $60,000 of which came from checks made payable to the Ventura College Pirates or Ventura College.
During the lifetime of the account, Winslow wrote checks to himself, to cash, to his wife, and to others. By 2008, when the account was finally closed, checks made to the order of cash aggregated to an amount of around $23,000, and checks made out to Winslow totaled $9,242.50.
Other expenses included such things as roughly $2,300 for repairs to Winslow’s personal boat and $1,100 for a vacation rental.
In November 2007, a Ventura County Star article disclosed the existence of Winslow’s off-campus bank account, alerting college administrators, triggering further investigations, and ultimately leading to his being charged on seven felony accounts.
After Winslow was fired from Ventura College, he turned over around $20,000 in cash to his attorney, which he alleged he had withdrawn from the Pirates bank account and kept in a fanny pack as separate savings to finance locker room renovations for the college. Winslow testified that the cash had not been touched since the closing of the account in 2008. The prosecution, however, presented testimony that two of the bills from the fanny pack were not circulated until well after the account was closed.
Winslow denied using the Ventura College Pirates’ funds for the V-Town Pirates expenses, but he contended that he could not produce receipts for the expenses because he was not allowed to take them when he was escorted from his office.
At trial, the jury found that Winslow did not take more than $50,000, but still returned a verdict of guilt on three felony counts, receiving five years probation, including terms that he serve one year in jail and pay $45,000 in restitution.
Winslow appealed, arguing the failure to instruct the jury that a defendant could not be found guilty unless he knew, or was criminally negligent in failing to know, requiring reversal of the misappropriation conviction.
In concluding that conviction on that count should be affirmed, Perren wrote:
“[T]he failure to instruct on the scienter requirement as to the misappropriation charge was harmless because…[Winslow] admitted writing checks to pay for personal expenses, and also admitted knowing he had no authority to do so. By stating that he only wrote the checks because he did not have his personal checkbook with him, Winslow effectively acknowledged that he owed the college for the expense.”
The jury was correctly instructed, Perren noted, that a belated attempt at restitution is not a defense to the charge of misappropriation of public funds.
Additionally, the court rejected Winslow’s claim that the trial judge should have instructed the jury that good faith is a defense to grand theft by embezzlement.
“Winslow’s admission that he knew the checks he wrote were unauthorized also renders harmless any error in failing to instruct that good faith was a defense to grand theft embezzlement,” Perren said. “[A]lthough Winslow presented evidence that he acted in good faith in depositing College funds into the Pirate account, he admitted that he had no authority to use the funds to pay for his personal expenses, and in light of such evidence, no reasonable juror could have found Winslow acted with a good faith belief.”
The case is People v. Winslow, B233380.
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