THE CIRCUIT COURT OF ARLINGTON COUNTY Louise M. DiMatteo,
Randolph, Assistant Public Defender II, for appellant.
Katherine Quinlan Adelfio, Assistant Attorney General (Mark
R. Herring, Attorney General, on brief), for appellee.
Present: Chief Judge Decker, Judges Humphreys and Russell
Argued at Winchester, Virginia
J. HUMPHREYS JUDGE.
August 29, 2016, a grand jury for the Circuit Court of
Arlington County ("circuit court") indicted
appellant Ronnie Leon Bryant ("Bryant") for five
felonies and one misdemeanor: four counts of felony credit
card theft, in violation of Code § 18.2-192; felony
credit card fraud, in violation of Code § 18.2-195; and
misdemeanor identity theft, in violation of Code §
18.2-186.3. Following a bench trial, the circuit court
convicted Bryant of all charges and sentenced him to an
aggregate sentence of six years'
assigns the following three errors on appeal:
I. The trial court had no subject matter jurisdiction to try
the four counts of credit card theft and was without
authority to impose punishment for such crimes.
II. The trial court erred as a matter of law in holding the
fraudulent use of credit cards is evidence of theft of the
III. The trial court erred in determining that the
Commonwealth had proved credit card theft of one of the
credit cards, where there [was] insufficient evidence of
intent to use the card in violation of the law.
accordance with familiar principles of appellate review, we
recite the facts in the light most favorable to the
Commonwealth, the prevailing party at trial. Scott v.
Commonwealth, 292 Va. 380, 381 (2016).
in this light, the evidence reflects that on June 4, 2016,
Bryant purchased multiple gift cards at an Arlington County
CVS on Jefferson Davis Highway using three credit cards that
were not issued in his name. Arlington County police officers
subsequently arrested Bryant. At the time of his arrest,
police officers discovered four credit cards belonging to a
woman named Angelique Mais ("Ms. Mais") on
Bryant's person, including the three credit cards that
Bryant used to purchase the gift cards.
August 29, 2016, a grand jury indicted Bryant for four counts
of felony credit card theft, felony credit card fraud, and
misdemeanor identity theft. The four counts related to the
credit card thefts alleged that
[o]n or about June 4, 2016, in the County of Arlington, did
take, obtain, or withhold a credit card or credit card number
from the person, possession, custody, or control of another
without the cardholder's consent, or did receive the
credit card or credit card number, knowing that it had been
so taken, obtained or withheld, with intent to use it or sell
it, or to transfer it to a person other than the issuer or
the cardholder, to wit a [credit card associated with each
September 30, 2016, Bryant filed a motion in limine
to dismiss the four indictments related to the credit card
thefts for "lack of venue." Bryant noted that Ms.
Mais, a resident of Washington, D.C., testified at the
preliminary hearing that she "was last aware of
possessing her credit cards . . . while at Whole Foods in
Silver Spring, Maryland." Accordingly, Bryant argued
that the completed crime of credit card theft "did not,
and could not, have occurred in Arlington County,
Virginia." As a result, Bryant argued that venue in
Arlington County was improper and requested that the circuit
court dismiss the four indictments related to the credit card
October 6, 2016, the circuit court held a hearing on
Bryant's motion. The Commonwealth argued that pursuant to
Code § 18.2-198.1, venue for a credit card theft
prosecution is appropriate wherever a credit card belonging
to another is "used, attempted to be used, or possessed
with the intent to use." The Commonwealth added that it
met its venue burden because the evidence would reflect that
Bryant used three of the four stolen credit cards in his
possession at the CVS in Arlington County. Alluding to the
fourth credit card that Bryant did not use at the CVS, the
Commonwealth argued that the issue of whether Bryant
possessed the requisite intent to use that particular stolen
credit card in Arlington County remained a question for the
fact finder. The circuit court took the matter under
advisement pending the presentation of evidence, stating that
"the trial judge can strike the case" if the
Commonwealth failed to meet its burden in establishing proper
December 28, 2016, a bench trial took place. There, Alex
Rodriguez ("Rodriguez"), the assistant store
manager at the Arlington County CVS on Jefferson Davis
Highway testified about the events that took place during the
evening and early morning hours of June 3-4, 2016. At
approximately 11:30 p.m. on June 3, 2016, Rodriguez noticed
Bryant walking through the CVS holding a stack of gift cards.
Rodriguez then watched Bryant walk to the self-checkout
location at the front of the store and purchase five $100
gift cards in separate transactions. Rodriguez testified that
the store required any customer purchasing over $500 in gift
cards to present identification. With Bryant purchasing each
of the $100 gift cards in separate transactions, however, the
store did not require Bryant to show any identification.
Rodriguez called the police after Bryant refused assistance
from a cashier and purchased the fourth gift card.
Commonwealth admitted into evidence both "electronic
journal reports" from each of Bryant's gift card
purchases and surveillance footage of Bryant purchasing the
gift cards. Rodriguez explained that CVS's computer
system automatically creates electronic journal reports that
serve as records of completed customer transactions. The
electronic journal reports contain the date, time, and store
location of each transaction. The reports also provide
information about the checkout lane used and the name of the
cashier, or lack thereof, as well as a general description of
any items purchased and their cost.
Todd ("Todd"), an organized retail crime manager at
CVS, testified for the Commonwealth about additional records
of Bryant's gift card purchases. Notably, Todd testified
regarding five point of sale ("POS") transaction
reports from June 3, 2016, which were generated from one of
CVS's "internal systems." According to Todd,
the internal system "tracks transactions and pretty much
anything done on the POS in our stores, company-wide."
Todd also explained that the POS transaction reports differ
from electronic journal reports in that they provide "a
little bit more information, such as credit card
information." The Commonwealth admitted the five POS
transaction reports into evidence, which reflected
Bryant's five separate gift card purchases utilizing
three different credit cards.
County Police Officer Tyler Bennett ("Officer
Bennett") testified that he was dispatched to the CVS on
Jefferson Davis Highway the night of June 3, 2016. Just
before midnight, as he approached the CVS, Officer Bennett
saw a man that he later identified as Bryant standing on a
street corner and within eyesight of the CVS. Officer Bennett
illuminated Bryant with the spotlight on his police cruiser
and proceeded to get out of his vehicle to speak with Bryant.
Officer Bennett asked Bryant what he was doing at the CVS,
Bryant replied that he purchased five or six, $100 gift cards
from the store. Bryant stated that he purchased the gift
cards "with a credit card." Bryant proceeded to
show Officer Bennett a "golden American Express
card" bearing the name "Angelique Mais." When
Officer Bennett patted down Bryant, Officer Bennett noticed
"what felt like a small stack of . . . credit
cards" in ...