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Name: People v. Bartell
Case #: C058918
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 3 DCA
Opinion Date: 02/04/2009

A bank which covers the amount of forged checks is a direct victim of the offense for purposes of restitution. Bartell was ordered to pay $590 to Wells Fargo Bank which had covered the cost of three forged checks written by her. Bartell contended on appeal that Wells Fargo was not a direct victim because it was merely an indemnitor of the account holder, Rita E., who was the direct victim of the three forged checks. The appellate court rejected the argument. Rita E. suffered no loss from the forgeries because Wells Fargo covered them. Because Wells Fargo could not then debit Rita E.’s account once it learned the checks were forged, it had to absorb the loss. It was therefore a direct victim of Bartell’s criminality, and the restitution order was proper.