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Name: People v. Casas
Case #: E048184
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 2
Opinion Date: 05/25/2010

The crime of embezzlement does not require the intent to permanently deprive the owner of property. The requisite mental state exists when a person uses property entrusted to him in a way that significantly interferes with the owner’s enjoyment or use of the property. Appellant, a salesman at an auto dealership, used a trade-in vehicle to follow a buyer home to collect a down payment. But after receiving the down payment, he did not immediately go back to the dealership. Instead, he drove the car nearly 400 miles to buy drugs. He used cash from the down payment to pay for the drugs. Based on this conduct, a jury convicted him of embezzlement. The appellate court requested supplemental briefing on the issue of whether embezzlement requires an intent to permanently deprive the owner of his property. The court held the intent to permanently deprive the owner of property is not an element of the crime. The gist of the crime is an agent’s use of entrusted property outside the scope of his authority and for his own personal use. Here, even assuming appellant intended to eventually return the trade-in car and the money, he interfered with the owner’s use and enjoyment of the property when he took the car for two days, drove it for 400 miles, and used the cash to buy drugs.