ELLINGTON, P. J., ANDREWS and RICKMAN, JJ.
a jury trial, Robert Whaley was convicted on one count of
Violation of Georgia's Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt
Organizations Act ("RICO") for acquiring money and
property through a pattern of racketeering activity in
violation of OCGA § 16-14-4 (a). Whaley contends that
the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction; the
RICO prosecution was time barred; and the trial court erred
in allowing the State to introduce extrinsic act evidence,
and his trial counsel rendered ineffective assistance by
failing to make a proper objection to that evidence. We find
no error and affirm.
On appeal from a criminal conviction, we view the evidence in
the light most favorable to support the jury's verdict,
and the defendant no longer enjoys a presumption of
innocence. We do not weigh the evidence or judge the
credibility of the witnesses, but determine only whether the
evidence authorized the jury to find the defendant guilty of
the crimes beyond a reasonable doubt in accordance with the
standard set forth in Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S.
307, 99 S.Ct. 2781, 61 L.Ed.2d 560 (1979).
Laster v. State, 340 Ga.App. 96, 97 (796 S.E.2d 484)
construed, the evidence adduced at trial showed that
throughout most of the time period relevant to this case,
Whaley had a romantic relationship with and/or was engaged to
marry Sharron Rice, with whom he also lived for about a year.
From approximately May 2005 through July 2012, Rice was
employed as accounts payable manager and eventually assistant
comptroller for D. E. L. Development Corporation
("DEL"). In that capacity, Rice was responsible for
processing all of DEL's accounts payable and issuing
checks to DEL's various vendors. At no time did Rice have
the authority to sign checks on behalf of DEL.
Friday, August 3, 2012, the President of DEL noticed certain
inconsistencies during his monthly review of DEL's
financial statements. After questioning his employees and
being uncomfortable with Rice's demeanor, he ordered that
an audit be conducted. The following Monday morning, he
entered the office to discover that Rice had resigned,
leaving him a resignation letter and her keys.
subsequent audit and resulting investigation revealed that
over the course of Rice's employment at DEL and during
her relationship with Whaley, Rice created in excess of 841
false account payable entries within DEL's accounting
software and thereby stole over $800, 000 from DEL by writing
unauthorized checks to herself and to the personal creditors
of herself and Whaley. During that time, Whaley and Rice also
vacationed together to such places as Alaska, Jamaica, San
Francisco and New York City.
and Whaley were both arrested and charged with three separate
counts alleging violations of OCGA § 16-14-4 (a) of the
RICO Act. Rice pled guilty to the charges. During
Whaley's ensuing trial, the State introduced evidence
that Rice and Whaley used four separate bank accounts to
facilitate the theft of funds from DEL.
Whaley's Hughes Services Account. On April 24, 2005,
Whaley personally opened a SunTrust bank account as
"Robert Whaley, d/b/a Hughes Services, " and was
the sole account holder. At that time, DEL conducted business
with a vendor called "Hughes, MRO, " to whom Rice
issued checks on behalf of DEL. Rice began issuing unauthorized
checks made out simply to "Hughes, " which were
then deposited into Whaley's Hughes Services Account.
Although SunTrust was only able to provide records dating
back to March 2006, those records demonstrated that from that
date until Whaley closed the account on February 21, 2007,
256 checks totaling over $50, 000 were deposited into
Whaley's Hughes Services Account. Of that amount, only
approximately $5, 000 of the deposited funds were not
connected to DEL.
used this to make cash withdrawals and pay personal bills.
Additionally, over $27, 000 was funneled back to Rice in the
form of checks made payable to her.
Whaley's and Rice's Joint LGE Account. Whaley and
Rice owned a joint LGE account, which they opened in 2003
(the "Joint Account"). Rice's paychecks from
DEL were directly deposited into the this account, and stolen
funds were funneled to the Joint Account from Whaley's
Hughes Services Account using checks written to Rice. The
Joint Account was also used to pay Whaley's personal
bills, and Whaley cashed checks written to himself from the
Rice's Hughes Account. In March 2007, during a time that
Whaley and Rice were having trouble in their relationship,
Rice opened a different "Hughes" account at Regions
Bank named Sharron Rice d/b/a Hughes. Rice testified that
Rice's Hughes Account was meant to be "a
continuation" of Whaley's Hughes Services Account in
that its purpose was to deposit funds stolen from DEL. Rice
wrote checks to Whaley from Rice's Hughes Account and its
funds were also used to pay for Whaley's personal bills.
Whaley's Personal Bank Account. Whaley maintained a
personal checking account with SunTrust Bank. He deposited
into this Personal Account checks written from Rice's
admitted that the purpose of moving funds stolen from DEL
between the various accounts was to "wash" the
money, which is a common practice among white collar
criminals and is intended to make it difficult ...