Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

State v. Staten

Court of Appeals of Wisconsin, District I

March 19, 2019

State of Wisconsin, Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
Angela L. Staten, Defendant-Appellant.

         Not recommended for publication in the official reports.

          APPEAL from a judgment and an order of the circuit court for Milwaukee County No. 2015CF869: JEFFREY A. WAGNER, Judge. Affirmed.

          Before Kessler, P.J., Brennan and Brash, JJ.

          BRENNAN, J.

         ¶1 Angela L. Staten appeals from a judgment of conviction and an order denying her postconviction motion for sentencing relief. She seeks a new sentencing hearing. Staten and two codefendants-her sisters Sharon and Tawanda-were charged in connection with a tax fraud scheme carried out over a period of three years that cost the State of Wisconsin $234, 390. Pursuant to a plea agreement, Staten pleaded guilty to one felony count of theft by false representation and four felony counts of identity theft, each with a felony repeater enhancer. Thirty-five additional felony counts were dismissed and read in. She was the first of the three codefendants sentenced. She seeks resentencing on two grounds: first, that her sentence was unduly harsh because it is longer than the sentences the trial court later imposed on her codefendants; and second, that the trial court erroneously exercised its discretion by failing to articulate a basis for imposing prison time rather than probation on counts four and five.

         ¶2 We conclude that Staten is not entitled to resentencing because she has not met her burden to show that the trial court "based its determination upon factors not proper in or irrelevant to sentencing, or was influenced by motives inconsistent with impartiality." See Jung v. State, 32 Wis.2d 541, 548, 145 N.W.2d 684 (1966). As to her first claim, although the codefendants all participated in the same scheme, they were not similarly situated for sentencing purposes: Staten's codefendants had fewer prior convictions, fewer open cases, pled guilty to fewer counts, had fewer dismissed counts read in, and had only misdemeanor repeater enhancers rather than felony repeater enhancers. Staten has therefore not met her burden to show that the disparity made her sentence unduly harsh. As to her second claim of error, it is Staten's burden to show that in imposing prison terms rather than probation on two counts, the trial court "fail[ed] to state the relevant and material factors that influenced its decision, relie[d] on immaterial factors, or [gave] too much weight to one factor in the face of other contravening factors." See State v. Steele, 2001 WI.App. 160, ¶10, 246 Wis.2d 744, 632 N.W.2d 112. The record shows that the trial court stated briefly but clearly "the relevant and material factors that influenced its decision," see id., namely that probation on count four was not proper because the court did not think Staten would benefit from probation "because of the consecutive sentences as to the [extended supervision]," and probation on count five was not appropriate because "she's on [extended supervision]" and "she'll have a sufficient amount of [extended supervision] time." We therefore affirm.

         BACKGROUND

         ¶3 Staten was among those charged in connection with a tax fraud scheme in which the codefendants obtained and used over a thousand names, social security numbers, and birthdates of individuals-including those of prison inmates and identity theft victims-and used them to file fraudulent income tax returns and state Homestead Credit claims for over a million dollars. The scheme netted about $200, 000 in refunds that the State of Wisconsin paid out. The investigation was prompted in 2010 when Staten's boyfriend, who was in prison, told a correctional officer that Staten was filing false returns.

         ¶4 Staten was charged with forty felony fraud and identity theft counts, all with felony repeater enhancers. As noted above, she pleaded guilty to five counts, and the remaining counts were dismissed and read in.

         ¶5 At sentencing, the State recommended a sentence totaling ten years of initial confinement on the first three counts, followed by ten years of extended supervision. For each of the remaining two counts, the State recommended imposed and stayed sentences of two years of initial confinement and two years of extended supervision, with six years' probation.

         ¶6 The trial court prefaced its sentencing decision by noting Staten's twenty prior convictions, the fact that this was "the largest tax fraud scheme" the investigator had seen in over thirty years on the job, and the fact that Staten had taken responsibility by pleading guilty, and it stated what it was taking into consideration:

[Q]uite frankly, the aggravating factors are so enormous in this case that it calls out for and cries for a prison sentence in the state institution.
The [c]ourt takes into consideration … any past record of criminal offenses, any history of undesirable behavior patterns, the memorandum that was supplied to the [c]ourt, those representations that have been made by the state and the defense.
Your culpability, your age, educational background, employment history.
I'm not sure how much remorse. I think the remorse was basically the fact ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.