The defendant was employed by a company that sells and services diesel engines. The company was located in Calcasieu Parish. Outfitted with company equipment, tools, and uniforms, defendant [**2] was dispatched to repair a vessel engine in Lafourche Parish, pursuant to a contract entered via facsimile transmissions to and from Lafourche and Calcasieu Parishes.
Defendant reported that he had received a cashier’s check from the owner of the vessel in the amount of $ 15,000 and told the latter bring the vessel in. On the following day defendant reported that the check had been stolen from his truck and he never seen again the owner of the vessel. Defendant thus never returned to Lake Charles Diesel to give details surrounding the incident, or to return its equipment and uniforms. In fact, the cashier’s check never existed. Allegedly the defendant also has stolen $ 500 on the basis of the missing $ 15,000 in cash as well as various items specified as assorted diesel parts and 11 sets of uniforms belonging to the company.
The Supreme Court of Louisiana vacated the decision of the court of appeals, reinstated the trial court’s denial of the motion to quash was reinstated, and remanded the matter the district court for further proceedings.
The Louisiana statute combines the common law crime of larceny with the offense of embezzlement [La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 14:67].
According to La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 14:67(A) crime of theft is “the misappropriation or taking of anything of value, which belong to another, either without the consent of the other to the misappropriation or taking, or by means of fraudulent conduct, practices, or representations”. Existence of malicious mind, i.e. mens rea, to misappropriate victim’s property is essential. The crime of embezzlement is “a fraudulent and felonious appropriation of another’s property by the person to whom it has been entrusted or into whose hands it has lawfully come”. The crux of the offense is a conversion of the property in breach of trust. In this regard breach of trust means fraudulent and felonious conversion of legally received goods or property (tangible, intangible) by embezzler in the course of a fiduciary relationship with the victim. The intent should not necessarily coincide with actual misappropriation.
“The locus delicti of a crime must be determined from the nature of the crime alleged and the location of the act or acts constituting it… [P]lace where the effect of the criminal conduct occurs is an important consideration in determining whether the charged criminal acts have substantial contacts with the venue chosen for prosecution”.
Whether quashing the information based on improper venue, i.e. locus delicti, is justified.
The Louisiana Supreme Court determined held that “the force of defendant’s criminal acts was felt nowhere else than in Calcasieu Parish, where the employer lost not only its parts and uniforms, but also the loss of the $ 15,000 cashier’s check. Thus, Calcasieu Parish was the appropriate venue for the State to prosecute the crimes against defendant”.