People v. Saint-Amans, A105413.

CourtCalifornia Court of Appeals
Writing for the CourtKline
Citation131 Cal.App.4th 1076,32 Cal.Rptr.3d 518
PartiesThe PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. Daniel John SAINT-AMANS, Defendant and Appellant.
Docket NumberNo. A105413.,A105413.
Decision Date18 July 2005
32 Cal.Rptr.3d 518
131 Cal.App.4th 1076
The PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent,
Daniel John SAINT-AMANS, Defendant and Appellant.
No. A105413.
Court of Appeal, First District, Division 2.
July 18, 2005.

[32 Cal.Rptr.3d 519]

Robert V. Vallandigham, Jr., Sausalito, CA, Under Appointment by the Court of Appeal, for Appellant.

Bill Lockyer, Attorney General, Robert P. Anderson, Chief Asst. Atty. Gen., Gerald A. Engler, Sr. Asst. Atty. Gen., Seth K. Schalit, Supervising Deputy Atty. Gen., Jeffrey M. Bryant, Deputy Attorney General, for Respondent.


131 Cal.App.4th 1079

After Daniel John Saint-Amans (appellant) pleaded guilty to one count of commercial burglary (Pen.Code, § 4591), the trial court ordered appellant to pay $10,000 restitution to Washington Mutual Bank (the bank) pursuant to section 1202.4. On appeal, appellant contends that the trial court erred by ordering restitution to an entity that was not a "direct victim" of the crime. (§ 1202.4, subd. (k)(2).) We shall affirm the restitution order.

Facts and Procedural Background2

Appellant opened a bank account at the bank's Terra Linda branch on October 25, 2001. The same day, a joint account was opened by phone banking under the names of William Dillon and appellant. Through a series of transactions, $35,000 was transferred from Dillon's account to the joint account, and then from the joint account to appellant's individual account. Appellant successfully withdrew $15,000 of this money. Bank employees became suspicious on May 30, 2001, when appellant requested to withdraw

131 Cal.App.4th 1080

$20,000 cash at the bank's Corte Madera branch. On May 31, 2001, the bank called the Twin Cities police, leading to appellant's arrest.

On January 24, 2002, appellant pleaded guilty to one count of commercial burglary in violation of section 459.

Appellant's probation officer submitted a presentence report dated April 23, 2002, which the court read and considered. In the report, Dillon stated that he did not suffer any loss because the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) covered his losses. The report also stated that the bank had submitted a restitution claim seeking $15,000, the full amount taken by appellant. The probation officer recommended that appellant be required to pay restitution to the bank as a condition of probation.

On May 17, 2002, the trial court held a sentencing hearing. During the proceedings, neither party objected to the factual accuracy of the probation report. Appellant objected to the restitution order, arguing that the bank was not the victim of the burglary because it did not suffer a financial loss. The probation officer stated that

32 Cal.Rptr.3d 520

the part of his report stating the bank's loss as $15,000 was incorrect because the bank had corresponded with him, indicating it had "no expenses" and that it had not yet claimed any losses. The court responded, "the folks who took the money should not get away either," and stated it would order restitution to some person or agency legitimately entitled to restitution.3 The court sentenced appellant to three years of supervised probation. Appellant's conditions of probation required him to pay restitution in an amount and manner to be decided by the probation officer, subject to court review on appellant's timely objection.

Supplemental documents were added to the probation report prior to the restitution hearing. Included was the bank's April 12, 2002 restitution claim form for $15,000 for losses due to forgery and customer impersonation. That form also contained a statement that "[a]fter recovery from all sources, [the bank's] `out-of-pocket' expenses are: $0." The probation report also contained a letter from Danielle Dixon of the bank's loss processing department dated January 23, 2003. The letter states that the original paperwork documenting the bank's loss at $15,000 was recorded incorrectly, and the remaining amount owed on the account was $10,000.

131 Cal.App.4th 1081

At the restitution hearing on January 13, 2004, appellant argued that Dillon, not the bank, was the direct victim of appellant's crime and was the only one entitled to restitution. At the outset, defense counsel stated, "... I told [the prosecutor] that I don't think we, after speaking with my client today, we need to take testimony on the amount of restitution. I would like to raise a legal issue about the restitution and just make it that brief, Your Honor, and then as to the amount we can stipulate." The People noted the presence at the hearing of a fraud investigator for the bank who could explain why the amount owed was $10,000. The court declined to hear from the investigator, stating that the amount was not at issue, but rather who was entitled to that amount. The People asserted, "I'm informed and believe from the investigator that Washington Mutual has since paid Mr. Dillon back because he had completed an application of forgery, and now the Washington Mutual Bank stands as a victim of a direct loss." Appellant did not offer any contrary evidence when prompted by the court. The court determined that the bank was the victim because appellant had pleaded guilty to burglarizing the bank and the probation report indicated that the bank lost the money it gave to appellant. The court ordered appellant to pay $10,000 restitution to the bank.

Appellant filed a timely appeal challenging the restitution order on January 23, 2004.


In 1982, California voters amended the state Constitution by initiative to provide restitution to crime victims. Article I, section 28, subdivision (b) states:

"It is the unequivocal intention of the People of the State of California that all

32 Cal.Rptr.3d 521

persons who suffer losses as a result of criminal activity shall have the right to restitution from the persons convicted of the crimes for losses they suffer.

"Restitution shall be ordered from the convicted persons in every case, regardless of the sentence or disposition imposed, in which a crime victim suffers a loss, unless compelling and extraordinary reasons exist to the contrary." (Cal. Const., art. I, § 28, subd. (b).)

The Legislature subsequently passed implementing legislation, which has been amended several times. (See Historical and Statutory Notes, Deering's Ann. Pen. Code (1993 ed. & 2005 supp.) foll. § 1202.4, pp. 271-272, 104-107.) In its current form, section 1202.4 requires an individual convicted of a crime to pay restitution to a victim who suffers "any economic loss"

131 Cal.App.4th 1082

resulting from the crime. (§ 1202.4, subd. (a)(1).) "Victim" includes "[a]ny corporation . . . or any other legal or commercial entity when that entity is a direct victim of a crime." (§ 1202.4, subd. (k)(2), italics added.)

To be entitled to restitution, the bank must have (1) suffered an economic loss, and (2) be considered a "direct victim" under the statute. Appellant contends that the bank meets neither of these conditions.

I. Substantial Evidence Supports the Trial Court's Conclusion That the Bank Suffered an Economic Loss

"In granting probation, courts have broad discretion to impose conditions to foster rehabilitation and to protect public safety pursuant to Penal Code section 1203.1. [Citations.] `The court may impose and require . . . [such] reasonable conditions[] as it may determine are fitting and proper to the end that justice may be done, that amends may be made to society for the breach of the law, for any injury done to any person resulting from that breach, and generally and specifically for the reformation and rehabilitation of the probationer.' (Pen.Code, § 1203.1, subd. (j).) The trial court's discretion, although broad, nevertheless is not without limits: a condition of probation must serve a purpose specified in the statute. In addition, we have interpreted Penal Code section 1203.1 to require that probation conditions which regulate conduct `not itself criminal' be `reasonably related to the crime of which the defendant was convicted or to future criminality.' [Citation.] As with any exercise of discretion, the sentencing court violates this standard when its determination is arbitrary or capricious or `"`exceeds the bounds of reason, all of the circumstances being considered.'" [Citations.]' [Citation.]

"Restitution has long been considered a valid condition of probation. [Citation.] Penal Code section 1203.1 requires trial courts to `consider whether the defendant as a condition of probation shall make restitution to the victim or the Restitution Fund,' and requires the court to `provide for restitution in proper cases.' (Pen.Code, § 1203.1, subds. (b) & (a)(3).)" (People v. Carbajal (1995) 10 Cal.4th 1114, 1120-1121, 43 Cal.Rptr.2d 681, 899 P.2d 67 (Carbajal), fn. omitted.)

"Restitution orders may not be based merely upon the trial court's subjective belief regarding the appropriate compensation; there must be a factual and rational basis for the amount ordered and the defendant must be permitted to dispute the amount or manner in which restitution is to be made. (Pen.Code, § 1203.1k; see also In re Brian S. [(1982)] 130 Cal.App.3d [523,] 532, 181 Cal.Rptr. 778.)" (Carbajal, supra, 10 Cal.4th at p. 1125, 43 Cal.Rptr.2d 681, 899 P.2d 67.)

32 Cal.Rptr.3d 522
131 Cal.App.4th 1083

Appellant argues that the bank did not suffer any loss, relying upon Dillon's statement that the FDIC reimbursed his account. However, the record here contains substantial evidence of the bank's loss. The report includes the bank's restitution claim form seeking restitution for forgery-customer impersonation. A reasonable trier of fact could conclude from this document that the bank reimbursed Dillon after he completed an application of forgery. The bank's January 23, 2003 letter from its loss processing department also evidences the bank's loss and states that the amount owed is $10,000.

Furthermore, at the restitution hearing, the prosecutor stated...

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