Woman’s Appeal Denied In Berlin Theft Conviction

OCEAN CITY — An Ocean City woman convicted of theft and theft scheme last year and sentenced to eight years after writing bad checks from a closed bank account in her mother’s name had her appeal denied last week in the state Court of Special Appeals.

In September 2017, Dianna Butler, 48, of Ocean City, was found guilty of theft scheme and theft and was sentenced to eight years. The charges against Butler stemmed from her writing as many as five bad checks from a closed bank account in her mother’s name over a seven-month period and using those bad checks to open a checking account at another bank.

Butler appealed the verdict to the state’s Court of Special Appeals, asserting the state did not produce sufficient evidence to prove she committed deception beyond representing that the checking account contained sufficient funds to cover the checks. However, the Court of Special Appeals last week issued an opinion upholding the Worcester County Circuit Court conviction and denying the appeal.

“We agree that a false representation regarding either a person’s authority to issue a check or the legitimacy of the signature on a check constitutes deceptive conduct,” the opinion reads. “Consequently, we are persuaded that the state presented sufficient evidence to support Butler’s convictions for theft scheme and theft.”

Butler was convicted of theft scheme based on evidence she wrote five bad checks from her mother’s closed PNC bank account. She was also convicted of theft less than $1,000 for opening a new account at BB&T Bank using the bad checks written from the defunct PNC account. She was issued a debit card after opening the second account and used the debit card to make a cash withdraw and to make various purchases knowing that the checks from the PNC account would later be dishonored.

Butler asserted in her appeal her mother knew she had written checks from the PNC account and that she had the authority to do so in acting as power of attorney for her mother. However, the checks were written after the PNC account was closed. In addition, on some of the checks, Butler signed her own name, but on at least one, she signed her mother’s name illegally, according to court documents.

Butler also asserted in the appeal the trial court did not sufficiently prove she was the individual who had used to debit card from the second account at BB&T Bank despite evidence to the contrary.

About The Author: Shawn Soper

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Shawn Soper has been with The Dispatch since 2000. He began as a staff writer covering various local government beats and general stories. His current positions include managing editor and sports editor. Growing up in Baltimore before moving to Ocean City full time three decades ago, Soper graduated from Loch Raven High School in 1981 and from Towson University in 1985 with degrees in mass communications with a journalism concentration and history.