Law School Case Brief
Commonwealth v. Mills - 436 Mass. 387, 764 N.E.2d 854 (2002)
To support a conviction of larceny under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 266, § 30, the Commonwealth is required to prove the unlawful taking and carrying away of the personal property of another with the specific intent to deprive the person of the property permanently.
Defendant, James Mills, retired from the Boston police department after he was diagnosed with hypertensive heart disease. He applied for and received from the board a nontaxable accidental disability pension of approximately $15,500 per year. He was required to sign a document under the penalty of perjury that he earned income below a specific threshold. The defendant then began to run a private investigation business, Mills Investigations, Inc. (Mills Investigations) where he billed the Committee for Public Counsel Services (CPCS) for his services, but undervalued his income to qualify for his disability pension. In order to qualify to receive the full pension, Mills was required to sign a document under penalty of perjury, which stated that Mills earned income below a specific threshold. Mills was convicted on multiple charges of larceny, larceny by false pretences, and embezzlement. Mills appealed, arguing filing that false earning reports did not constitute theft. Following a jury trial, defendant was found guilty of three counts of larceny.
Did the trial court err in denying defendant's motion for a required finding of not guilty with respect to the three counts of larceny?
The well-established standard of appellate review of the denial of a motion for a required finding of not guilty is "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.” Where, as here, a defendant submitted a generally expressed motion for a required finding of not guilty, the motion applies to any offense properly charged in the indictment and is correctly denied when the evidence supports any such properly charged offense. The Commonwealth presented sufficient evidence to establish the essential elements of at least one form of "stealing," namely larceny, embezzlement, or larceny by false pretenses, beyond a reasonable doubt. The judge did not err in denying the defendant's motion for required findings of not guilty with respect to the three counts of larceny from the board. After viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the Commonwealth, a rational trier of fact could have found the essential elements of larceny by false pretenses beyond a reasonable doubt.
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