This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1998).


State of Minnesota,


Mack Thomas,

Filed October 5, 1999
Klaphake, Judge

Anoka County District Court
File No. K8-98-4621

Mike Hatch, Attorney General, 525 Park St., Suite 500, St. Paul, MN 55103; and

Robert M.A. Johnson, Anoka County Attorney, M. Katherine Doty, Assistant County Attorney, Anoka County Government Ctr., 2100 Third Ave., 7th Floor, Anoka, MN 55303 (for respondent)

John M. Stuart, State Public Defender, Lyonel Norris, Assistant State Public Defender, 2829 University Ave. S.E., Ste. 600, Minneapolis, MN 55414-3230 (for appellant)

Considered and decided by Klaphake, Presiding Judge, Anderson, Judge, and Norton, Judge.[*]

U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N


Mack Thomas appeals the upward durational departure of his sentence for offering forged checks in violation of Minn. Stat. §§ 609.631, subds. 3, 4(2) (1998); 609.101, subd. 4 (1998). Because the trial court's decision to depart from sentencing guidelines was not a clear abuse of discretion, we affirm.


In the presence of certain aggravating or mitigating circumstances, a trial court has broad discretion to depart from the presumptive sentence under the guidelines. State v. Behl, 573 N.W.2d 711, 714 (Minn. App. 1998), review denied (Minn. Mar. 19, 1998). Absent clear abuse, the decision to depart rests within the trial court's discretion. Id. In determining whether to depart, the trial court must find that the conduct involved was more or less serious than that typically involved in the commission of that crime. State v. Ford, 539 N.W.2d 214, 229-30 (Minn. 1995).

The trial court based its upward durational departure, a five-month increase over the presumptive sentence of 19 months, on the fact that multiple victims were involved and the offense involved a high degree of sophistication or planning, both factors permitting an upward departure under the sentencing guidelines. Minn. Sent. Guidelines II.D.2.b.(4). Thomas argues that his offense did not involve multiple victims because in both instances, the second victim was a bank rather than an individual. However, the same individual, Andrew R. Newman, was targeted on both occasions, and US Bank also suffered monetary damages as a result of Thomas' criminal activities. The trial court's determination that this offense involved two victims is not an abuse of discretion.

The trial court also found a degree of sophistication or planning involved in Thomas' conduct. Thomas procured a falsified laminated identification card, obtained at least one check from an acquaintance more knowledgeable in the art of forgery, and following his first successful transaction, attempted to repeat it the next day. Thomas also used a false identity when apprehended. All of these facts show a degree of planning not characteristic of a single impulsive act. Minn. Sent. Guidelines II.D.2.b.

The trial court adequately justified its reasons for an upward durational departure in sentencing Thomas. Williams v. State, 361 N.W.2d 840, 844 (Minn. 1985).


[*] Retired judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, serving by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.