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Failure to Pay TV Rental Showed Fraud

A defendant who previously had worked for ColorTyme rental store and who provided a “wrong” telephone number and had “moved” from the address he provided when ColorTyme employees arrived to pick up a television defendant rented and failed to make any monthly payments for, had the requisite intent to defraud under Va. Code § 18.2-118; the Court of Appeals affirms his conviction.

Circumstantial evidence was sufficient to support the trial court determination that defendant had the requisite fraudulent intent. The commonwealth’s evidence established that a certified letter was sent to defendant at the address he listed on the lease agreement and that defendant failed to return the television to ColorTyme within 30 days thereof. A copy of the letter, admitted into evidence as part of ColorTyme’s file, stated the rental agreement expired on June 15, 2013 and warned defendant that failure to return the rented merchandise immediately could result in criminal prosecution.

Defendant contends the evidence did not establish that the letter was sent by certified mail because defendant had no personal knowledge of the means of communication with defendant, and the letter itself does not represent that it was sent via certified mail. Testimony by the ColorTyme store owner, corroborated by an entry in ColorTyme’s file dated June 25, 2013, the same date enumerated on the letter, was sufficient to demonstrate that ColorTyme sent a certified letter to defendant on June 25, 2013 at the address he listed on the rental agreement. Under Code § 18.2-118(B), defendant’s failure to return the television within 30 days of the letter constituted prima facie evidence of his intent to defraud.

When store employees attempted to collect the first monthly payment under the rental contract, they realized defendant had provided a “wrong number” on the rental form. Whey they visited the address listed on the rental form, they were informed by a resident that defendant and his roommate had moved out.

Conviction under Code § 18.2-118 is affirmed.

Outsey v. Commonwealth (Huff) No. 0251-15-1, Dec. 8, 2015; Norfolk Cir.Ct. (Hall) J. Barry McCracken, APD, for appellant; Elizabeth C. Kiernan, AAG, for appellee. VLW 015-7-328(UP), 7 pp.

VLW 015-7-328

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