This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1998).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
State of Minnesota,
Gilbert Lee Mancheski,
Filed January 25, 2000
Washington County District Court
File No. K1-98-3486
John M. Stuart, State Public Defender, Sharon E. Jacks, Assistant State Public Defender, 2829 University Avenue Southeast, Suite 600, Minneapolis, MN 55414 (for appellant)
Doug Johnson, Washington County Attorney, Eric C. Thole, Assistant County Attorney, 14949-62nd Street North, P.O. Box 6, Stillwater, MN 55082 (for respondent)
Considered and decided by Willis, Presiding Judge, Short, Judge, and Anderson, Judge.
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
Appellant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence supporting his conviction for aiding and abetting the offering of forged checks. Because the state’s evidence supports the conviction and is inconsistent with any rational hypothesis other than guilt, we affirm.
Appellant Gilbert Mancheski worked as a mill employee at Roc-Tenn Corporation, a paper recycling facility. Appellant’s brother, Kevin Mancheski, and appellant’s friend, Kevin Pennas, were arrested for their suspected involvement in a check-forgery ring. Neither Kevin Mancheski nor Pennas was an employee of Roc-Tenn. At the scene of the arrest the police found blank courtesy and payroll checks. Some of the checks had been stamped with the name "Bruce Dickman" as the payor.
The police traced the checks to the printer, United Mailing Corporation. United Mailing determined that the checks came from rolls of checks that were classified as defective and sent to the Roc-Tenn recycling plant to be destroyed. Roc-Tenn informed the police that they found two boxes of defective checks that were slated for recycling, a signature stamp with the name "Bruce Dickman," and an Office Max receipt for the signature stamp in an unassigned Roc-Tenn personnel locker. The receipt for the signature stamp was signed with the name Gilbert Smith and included appellant’s telephone number as the contact number. A handwriting expert from the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension concluded with probable certainty that appellant was the individual who signed the name Gilbert Smith on the Office Max receipt.
At appellant’s trial, Kevin Mancheski testified that he and Kevin Pennas stole the checks from the Roc-Tenn recycling plant and that appellant did not help him in any way. According to Kevin Mancheski, he and Kevin Pennas would roam freely through the Roc-Tenn facility and pick up stray checks and deposit the checks in a Roc-Tenn employee locker for later pick-up. Despite Kevin Mancheski’s testimony, the jury found appellant guilty of aiding and abetting the offering of forged checks in violation of Minn. Stat. §§ 609.05, .631, subd. 3 (1998). Appellant challenges the conviction.
D E C I S I O N
When analyzing a challenge to the sufficiency of the state's evidence, we must determine whether the evidence, viewed in a light most favorable to the conviction, was sufficient to permit the jurors to reach a guilty verdict. State v. Webb, 440 N.W.2d 426, 430 (Minn. 1989). A reviewing court must "‘recognize that the jury is in the best position to evaluate the credibility of witnesses.’" State v. Profit, 591 N.W.2d 451, 467 (Minn. 1999) (quotation omitted).
The jury convicted appellant of aiding and abetting the offering of a forged check. A person is liable for aiding and abetting "if the person intentionally aids, advises, hires, counsels, or conspires with or otherwise procures the other to commit the crime." Minn. Stat. § 609.05, subd. 1 (1998). A conviction on charges for aiding and abetting cannot be based on failure to disclose or mere knowledge of the event. State v. McKenzie, 532 N.W.2d 210, 222 (Minn. 1995).
After reviewing the evidence, the jury determined that appellant assisted Kevin Mancheski and Kevin Pennas in offering forged checks. The jury’s determination was based entirely on circumstantial evidence, and although circumstantial evidence warrants stricter scrutiny, circumstantial evidence is entitled to the same weight as other evidence. State v. Ashby, 567 N.W.2d 21, 27 (Minn. 1997). However, "[c]ircumstantial evidence must be consistent with the hypothesis that the defendant is guilty and inconsistent with any other rational hypothesis other than guilt." State v. Thomas, 590 N.W.2d 755, 758 (Minn. 1999). The state need not present evidence that excludes all possibility that another person committed the crime; it need only make such other theories appear unreasonable. See State v. Anderson, 379 N.W.2d 70, 78 (Minn. 1985) cert. denied sub nom. Anderson v. Minnesota, 476 U.S. 1141, 106 S. Ct. 2248 (1986).
Appellant does not argue that the state’s circumstantial evidence does not support a conviction for aiding and abetting; instead, appellant contends that the state’s circumstantial evidence does not disprove his rational theory of innocence. Appellant’s theory is that Kevin Mancheski and Kevin Pennas obtained the checks and name stamp without his knowledge or help.
There is little evidence that supports appellant’s theory. Appellant argues that the evidence of the signature and telephone number on the Office Max receipt supports his theory that either Kevin Mancheski or Kevin Pennas obtained the signature stamp. It is true that the telephone number listed on the receipt belonged to appellant, as well as Kevin Mancheski and Kevin Pennas, because the parties lived together. But the handwriting expert determined with probable certainty that appellant signed the receipt for the signature stamp; this determination is sufficient to make appellant’s alternative theory unreasonable.
Kevin Mancheski’s testimony is the strongest evidence supporting appellant’s theory of innocence. But Kevin Mancheski’s version of events is unlikely and his testimony is unreliable. Roc-Tenn followed a specific procedure for disposing of check materials; the material was placed on a conveyor belt for immediate destruction or stored in warehouse #20 until the material could be guillotined. In order for the Kevin Mancheski version of events to be true, this court would need to believe that he, Kevin Mancheski, a non-employee, could wander through Roc-Tenn in search of checks without being noticed, gain access to employee lockers, and know that he could put material in empty lockers. Although Kevin Mancheski testified to this effect, his testimony is unreliable. During his testimony, Kevin admitted that he was not telling the truth, in order to "save" Pennas.
The evidence in this case supports a finding that appellant actively aided Kevin Mancheski and Kevin Pennas in obtaining checks from Roc-Tenn and is inconsistent with the theory that appellant was not involved. The evidence shows that whoever stole the checks from Roc-Tenn had inside information or assistance. Appellant’s hypothesis of innocence is unlikely and unsupported by the evidence.