• Court of Appeals of Texas, Eighth District
  • 08-15-00263-CR
Lauri LaBree, the office manager for Kendrick Electric, wrote checks on the company's account to buy cocaine from appellant Ronald Berge. Over the course of four years she wrote 253 checks totaling $1.8 million to appellant, who would cash them and share some of the proceeds with LaBree. The court convicted appellant of misapplication of fiduciary property and theft over $200,000, and sentenced him to 15 years and one day. On appeal, appellant argued the evidence was insufficient to show he had a fiduciary relationship to Ralph Kendrick, the company's owner. The court found that the state charged appellant as a party, not as a principal actor, arguing that he assisted LaBree in violating her fiduciary duty. The court rejected appellant's argument that only a primary actor can be convicted for misappropriation of fiduciary property under Amaya v. State (733 S.W.2d 168); the court found that Amaya expressly held that the state can obtain conviction "on the law of parties." The court also rejected appellant's argument that he did not intend to assist LaBree, whom appellant claimed told him she was a part owner of Kendrick Electric, in her crimes. However, the court found that to establish misapplication of fiduciary duty, the state only had to show appellant knew he was assisting LaBree in a crime, not that he had intent. The court also found that LaBree disputed appellant's ownership claims at trial, that appellant's brief conceded the evidence was sufficient to show that LaBree committed a crime, and that the duration and monetary volume of the scheme were great enough that a reasonable jury could find appellant should have doubted LaBree was an owner. The court affirmed the trial court's judgment. Ronald Berge v. The State of Texas, El Paso Court of Appeals, Case No. 08-15-00263-CR, 5/31/17.

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