This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2006).
IN COURT OF APPEALS
State of Minnesota,
Hennepin County District Court
File No. 04024881
Lori Swanson, Attorney General, 1800 Bremer Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN 55101-2134; and
Michael O. Freeman, Hennepin County Attorney, Thomas A. Weist, Assistant County Attorney, C-2000 Government Center, Minneapolis, MN 55487 (for respondent)
James E. Ostgard,
Considered and decided by Halbrooks, Presiding Judge; Stoneburner, Judge; and Crippen, Judge.*
Appellant challenges her conviction of bribery, arguing that there was insufficient evidence to support a finding that money she gave to an adult foster-care case manager was intended to influence the case manager to make placements at appellant’s adult foster home. We affirm.
In a challenge to the sufficiency of
the evidence, this court determines “whether the jury could reasonably find the
defendant guilty given the facts in evidence and the legitimate inferences
which could be drawn from those facts.” State v. Miles, 585 N.W.2d 368, 372 (
A person is guilty of bribery if the
person “[o]ffers, gives, or promises to give, directly or indirectly, to [a
public employee] any benefit, reward, or consideration to which the [employee]
is not legally entitled with intent . . . to influence the [employee’s]
performance” of his or her duties.
Appellant, Zufan Asgedom, a licensed
adult-foster-care provider who gave money to a case manager who placed adults
in her foster home, argues that the evidence is consistent with her theory that
she was intending to make a gift to the case manager in appreciation of past
referrals, rather than a payment to influence future actions. “The intent element of a crime, because it
involves a state of mind, is generally proved circumstantially,” and
circumstantial evidence is given the same weight as other evidence. State
The case manager testified that prior to a 30-day review hearing on the second client placed by the case manager at Asgedom’s home, Asgedom called the case manager and said she “really appreciated” that placement. Asgedom told the case manager to “get out [her] calculator” and figure out two percent of the billings for clients the case manager referred to Asgedom because that is what the case manager would be getting for each client the case manager placed in Asgedom’s home. The case manager also testified that Asgedom talked about getting another home “so we could become millionaires I guess.”
The record contains Asgedom’s check for $1,320, made out to the case manager, with the notation “independent contractor” in the memo portion of the check. The case manager, who received the check at the time of the 30-day review referred to above, testified that Asgedom told her that she wrote “independent contractor” on the memo line of the check so that Asgedom could “write it off [on] her income taxes.” A reasonable inference from this evidence is that the check represents a payment for services rather than a gift. The case manager also testified:
[Asgedom] said well you can say you work for me. I said well that won’t work because I can’t work for you and you’re a provider. I don’t want to lose my job and she said your husband and your son could have worked for me. We were just thinking of different things we could say if anybody ever found the check because I was really scared somebody would find the check. . . . [S]he said I could have sold . . . her something and just what kind of excuses we could use for a check being in my account from her.
The case manager initially told investigators that the check was payment for furniture. The case manager testified that in a telephone conversation, “[Asgedom] said[,] well why don’t you stick to the story about you working for me or your husband or your son . . . .”
Asgedom argues that the amount of the check does not reasonably relate to two percent of the billings for the subject client and therefore does not support an inference of intent to influence the case manager’s duties. But despite the mathematical discrepancy in the amount of the check, the check, with the notation “independent contractor,” corroborates the case manager’s testimony that Asgedom offered to pay her at a certain rate for each client that the case manager placed in Asgedom’s home. And the case manager’s testimony about the contemporaneous conversations with Asgedom about the payment leads to a logical inference that the Asgedom discussed ways to “cover-up” the payment.
We conclude that the evidence is
sufficient to permit a reasonable inference that Asgedom offered to pay the
case manager with the intent to influence the case manager’s performance of her
duties as a public employee. See, e.g., State v. Gustafson, 396 N.W.2d
583, 587 (Minn. App. 1986) (concluding that testimony and corroborating
evidence was sufficient to sustain bribery conviction), review denied (
* Retired judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, serving by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.