Recently, members of the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department arrested the former operations manager of a large real estate company in Thousand Oaks. It is believed that the suspect stole over $1 million worth of funds from the business.
The suspect was arrested in Malibu on suspicion of 18 charges of grand theft that allegedly occurred over the course of her 15-year employment at the company. She is currently being held in lieu of $80,000 bail.
Grand theft is covered under California Penal Code 487 PC and is described as the unlawful taking of someone else’s money, labor, or property worth $950 or more. Most of the time, grand theft is considered a “wobbler” that can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the circumstances of the case and the defendant’s prior criminal history.
When charged as a misdemeanor the potential penalties include up to 1 year in county jail. Felony cases carry the potential penalties of felony probation with up to 1 year of jail time or 16 months to 3 years in county jail.
When someone commits grand theft and the item stolen is a firearm, things can get much worse for the defendant. Grand theft firearm is always a felony with the potential penalty of 16 months to 3 years in California state prison. It is also considered a “strike” under California’s three strikes law.
Since, in the case above, the amount of money stolen was much more than just $950, the defendant faces significant sentence enhancements if convicted. When the stolen property/money/labor is worth between $1 million and $1.3 million, an additional and consecutive 3 years in prison.
It’s unclear whether the defendant will ultimately face 18 separate crimes or if each incident was part of one overall scheme to steal from the company. If she faces 18 separate incidents, she may be facing a much longer stay in prison than if her case is treated as one large scam to steal the money.