ELLINGTON, P. J., ANDREWS and RICKMAN, JJ.
Ellington, Presiding Judge.
a bench trial in the Superior Court of Wheeler County, the
court found Casey Green guilty of four counts of theft by
taking, OCGA § 16-8-2. Green appeals following the trial
court's denial of his motion for new trial. He contends
that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction.
We affirm for the reasons set forth below.
appeal of a criminal conviction on grounds of insufficiency
of the evidence, the appellate court's duty is to
determine "whether after viewing the evidence in the
light most favorable to the prosecution, any rational trier
of fact could have found the essential elements of the crime
beyond a reasonable doubt." (Punctuation and footnote
omitted.) Thompson v. State, 277 Ga. 102, 103 (1)
(586 S.E.2d 231) (2003).So viewed, the evidence shows that Green
and Henry Clark had a long standing business relationship.
Clark, through his company, T.C. Logging, Inc., was in the
business of purchasing and reselling timber. Green was a
"forester" who contracted with landowners for the
purchase of timber and oversaw harvesting operations. In the
course of his business, Green did not sell timber directly to
the mills. Rather, Green would take timber to the mill under
Clark's "ticket, " the mill would pay Clark for
the timber, and Clark would cut checks to pay the loggers and
the landowners. Green would then, according to Clark,
"deliver the checks back where they were supposed to
be." After the expenses were paid, Green and Clark would
share the remainder.
July and August of 2012, Clark made four checks payable to
Rick Compton under the name "RC Timber, " and he
gave those checks to Green with direction that he deliver
them to Compton. According to Clark, Compton had been
acting as a "consultant" for a landowner, and
Compton was supposed to pay the landowner out of the proceeds
of the checks. Rather than deliver the checks to Compton,
Green endorsed the checks in his own name and deposited them
in his account at Wheeler County State Bank. The Bank's
teller, who was familiar with both Green and Clark, was
initially concerned about processing the deposits, but she
did so after Green, either directly or in response to her
inquiry, represented to her that his initials had been
realized that there was an issue with the checks when he
received word that the landowner had not been paid. After
meeting with Compton, Clark called the Bank and asked for
copies of the backs of the checks so he could see the
endorsements. Clark then made direct payments to the
landowner and Compton. An officer of the Bank met with Green
in an effort to determine what had happened, but Green
offered no explanation for the deposits. Clark testified
that he contacted Green and invited him to his office to
"work this out, " but Green never came, nor did he
explain to Clark where the money had gone.
Green testified in his defense that he and Compton were
working as "partners" and that Compton had asked
Green to deposit the checks payable to Compton's business
in Green's account. As Compton did not testify, Green
contends that there is no evidence to dispute his testimony
and that the State therefore failed to prove beyond a
reasonable doubt that he unlawfully appropriated the checks.
§ 16-8-2 provides in pertinent part that: "[a]
person commits the offense of theft by taking when he . . .
being in lawful possession thereof, unlawfully appropriates
any property of another with the intention of depriving him
of the property, regardless of the manner in which the
property is taken or appropriated." The offense's
gravamen "is the taking of the property of another
against the will of such other, regardless of whether the
property is taken or appropriated and the manner of the
taking or the appropriation." (Citation and punctuation
omitted.) Brown v. State, 302 Ga.App. 641, 643 (1)
(692 S.E.2d 9) (2010).
purposes of our review of the sufficiency of the evidence,
"as long as there is some evidence, even though
contradicted, to support each fact necessary for the
state's case, the verdict will be upheld." (Citation
and punctuation omitted.) Wiggins v. State,
334 Ga.App. 54, 57 (3) (778 S.E.2d 60) (2015). And "[i]t
is axiomatic that[, ] in a bench trial, the trial court
weighs the evidence and determines the credibility of
witnesses." (Citation and punctuation omitted.)
Kelly v. State, 270 Ga.App. 380, 381 (606 S.E.2d
586) (2004). Here, the trial court found that, upon
considering the witnesses' credibility, motive, and
opportunity, as well as Green's manner and disposition,
Green's factual account was not persuasive.
testified that Green was working with him and represented
Clark's business, T.C. Logging. Green also worked with a
number of consultants, such as Compton, with different
consultants representing different landowners. According to
Clark, Green came to his office and picked up the checks, and
Green's "job was to deliver these checks to
[Compton], " consistently with the manner in which Green
and Clark had conducted business for over twelve years. Thus,
viewed in a light most favorable to the prosecution, the
evidence showed that Green had been entrusted by Clark with
the act of physically delivering T.C. Logging's checks to
Compton, and that, contrary to Clark's direction and
without Clark's consent, Green deposited the checks in
his own account. This was sufficient for any rational trier
of fact to find beyond a reasonable doubt that Green had
unlawfully appropriated the checks. See Frost v.
State, 269 Ga.App. 54, 56 (1) (603 S.E.2d 481) (2004)
(Proof that a check written to another company was deposited
in the account of appellant's company was sufficient to
support the jury's determination that appellant had
committed theft by taking.). Compare In the Interest of
E. C., 311 Ga.App. 549, 550 (2) (716 S.E.2d 601) (2011)
(As the only evidence that the appellant took his
sister's car without her consent was nonprobative
hearsay, the evidence was not sufficient to support the
appellant's adjudication of delinquency based on theft by
taking beyond a reasonable doubt.).
Green further argues that the State failed to prove the
element of intent beyond a reasonable doubt. OCGA §
16-8-2 requires that, to constitute the crime of theft by
taking, an unlawful appropriation of another's property
be "with the intention of depriving him of the
[I]ntent may be found by the [trier of fact] upon
consideration of the words, conduct, demeanor, motive and all
other circumstances connected with the act for which the
accused is being prosecuted. Whether a defendant has the
requisite intent to commit a crime is a question for the
[trier of fact].
(Citation and punctuation omitted.) Bearden v.
State, 316 Ga.App. 721, 723 (2) (728 S.E.2d 874) (2012).
Green argues that his testimony and supporting exhibits
showed that he had paid more "legitimate expenses"
of his and Compton's business than the proceeds of the
checks that he was accused of taking, and that, as he was
entitled to be reimbursed for his expenses, the State failed
to show that he intended to deprive either Compton or Clark
of their property. Whatever expenses Green might have
personally incurred, the evidence showed that the checks at
issue were not payable to him but were placed in his
possession for their physical delivery to Compton, and that,
by endorsing the checks and misrepresenting that the checks
were actually payable to him, he knowingly took the proceeds
of the checks for himself The evidence was sufficient to
establish Green's criminal intent See Frost v
State, 269 Ga.App. at 56 (1); Jordan v ...