Court of Appeals: restitution too high for antler thief
October 26, 2015
A man who pocketed $17,000 by selling his employer's high-end antler products at a consignment store has caught a break from the Colorado Court of Appeals.
Pedro Amaral-Jacobo, 36, pleaded guilty in April 2012 to an attempted computer crime, a felony, in exchange for the dismissal of two felony theft charges.
Pitkin County District Court Judge Gail Nichols gave him a deferred sentence and also ordered him to pay $60,671 in restitution to his former employers, the owners of Crystal Farm Enterprises in Carbondale. Crystal Farm makes and sells high-end furniture and lighting decorated with or made of antlers.
Amaral-Jacobo's public defenders contested the restitution amount because he only sold raw materials from Crystal Farm. They took the matter to the Court of Appeals, which reversed Nichols' ruling Thursday and remanded it to Pitkin County District Court.
"Although we agree with the people that the evidence was sufficient for the court to award restitution in excess of the cost of raw materials, we conclude that the District Court's findings are not sufficient to support the restitution award," wrote Judge Gilbert M. Roman in his order, which was supported by two other appellate judges.
Roman's order noted Amaral-Jacobo sold both Crystal Farm's complete and raw materials through a consignment store over a period of four years.
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But Nichols determined the entire restitution amount based on the value of completed pieces made from the raw material stolen by Amaral-Jacobo.
"In applying this method of valuation, the District Court erred," Roman wrote, adding that "restitution should not, however, put the victim in a better position than he was in before the crime occurred."
Pitkin County sheriff's deputies arrested Amaral-Jacobo in July 2011. Amaral-Jacobo was an hourly employee at Crystal Farm making pieces for the retailer.
The store owners learned from a customer that their items were being sold at a consignment store. When confronted by the owners, Amaral-Jacobo initially denied taking the items and said a co-worker had given them to him to put up for consignment.