Supreme Court of California
28 P.2d 1057 (Cal. 1934)
James Talbot and other officers of the Richfield Oil Company (defendants) used corporate funds for personal speculation on the stock market and were consequently charged with embezzlement. Section 504 of the California Penal Code provides that every officer or agent of a corporation who fraudulently appropriates corporate property under his or her control for any purpose that is not in lawful execution of the trust is guilty of embezzlement. At trial, evidence showed that the officers may not have realized that their actions amounted to embezzlement, although those actions were obviously not good business practices. Evidence also established that the officers openly made withdrawals from corporate accounts and did not try to conceal their actions and that the practice of making these kinds of advances was common among corporations at the time, including the Richfield Oil Company and other corporations. The trial court found Talbot and the other officers guilty of embezzlement, inferring their fraudulent intent from the fact that the money was appropriated and used for the officers’ personal purposes instead of the company’s corporate purposes. Talbot appealed, and the district court of appeal issued an opinion affirming the judgment.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (en banc)
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