FINAL UNTIL TIME EXPIRES TO FILE REHEARING MOTION AND, IF
from the Circuit Court for Hendry County; James D. Sloan,
L. Dimmig, II, Public Defender, and Megan Olson, Assistant
Public Defender, Bartow, for Appellant.
Jo Bondi, Attorney General, Tallahassee, and Helene S.
Parnes, Assistant Attorney General, Tampa, for Appellee.
convicted Pedro Luis Rodriguez of dealing in stolen property
(organizing). However, the trial court should have granted
Rodriguez's motion for judgment of acquittal because the
State failed to prove an element of that crime.
State charged Rodriguez with dealing in stolen property in
violation of section 812.019(2), Florida Statutes
(2014). The charge stemmed from a controlled sale
of stolen herbicide. Months previously, a local farmer had
discovered that an employee was stealing fuel. The farmer
agreed not to press charges if the employee repaid the cost
of the fuel and cooperated with a Hendry County Sheriff's
Office agricultural investigator, Detective White. The
employee agreed to give Detective White the names of anyone
attempting to purchase "discount" farm supplies.
Rodriguez eventually propositioned the employee, and
Detective White planned a controlled sale.
day of the controlled sale, Detective White provided three
two-and-a-half-gallon containers of GlyStar Plus herbicide to
the employee. Hidden camera footage showed Rodriguez meeting
with the employee, transferring the herbicide from the
employee's truck into his own, and briefly discussing
close of the State's case at trial, Rodriguez moved for a
judgment of acquittal, arguing in part that the State failed
to present evidence that Rodriguez trafficked in the
herbicide. The trial court denied the motion, finding that
the State had presented a prima facie case. The jury found
Rodriguez guilty, and the trial court sentenced him to sixty
days in county jail followed by thirty-six months'
order to prove Rodriguez guilty of dealing in stolen property
(organizing) the State had to show (1) that he initiated,
organized, planned, financed, directed, managed, or
supervised a theft of the herbicide and (2) that he
trafficked in the herbicide. § 812.019(2).
"Traffic" means "[t]o sell, transfer,
distribute, dispense, or otherwise dispose of property"
or "[t]o buy, receive, possess, obtain control of, or
use property with the intent to sell, transfer, distribute,
dispense, or otherwise dispose of such property." §
812.012(8)(a)-(b). During closing argument, the State posited
that Rodriguez "made a phone call initiating the chain
of events; the getting of that herbicide; and that then the
defendant purchased that with the intent to use it.
You heard about his farm, his equipment and he was using
it." (Emphasis added.) On appeal, the State acknowledges
that although there was no evidence that Rodriguez sold the
herbicide to another person, Rodriguez trafficked by using
the herbicide for a commercial farming project and thereby
placing it "into the stream of commerce." State
v. Nesta, 617 So.2d 720, 721 (Fla. 2d DCA 1993) (holding
that the sale of stolen jewelry to pawn broker constituted
dealing in stolen property notwithstanding defendant's
argument that he stole the jewelry for personal use and did
not intend to place it into the stream of commerce). We
Rodriguez organized the theft with the actual intent to use
the herbicide on his own farm, his "intent to personally
put the stolen items to their normal use of consumption,
constitutes only the crime of theft and not the crime of
dealing in stolen property." Williams v. State,
590 So.2d 515, 516 (Fla. 2d DCA 1991). The gravamen of
section 812.019 is the prohibition against knowingly
transferring stolen property to another. "The dealing in
stolen property 'statute was not designed to punish
persons who steal for personal use. Rather it was designed to
dismantle the criminal network of thieves and fences who
knowingly redistribute stolen property.' "
Blackmon v. State, 121 So.3d 535, 542 (Fla. 2013)
(emphasis added) (quoting State v. Camp, 596 So.2d
1055, 1057 (Fla. 1992)).
State has not submitted any case law supporting its
proposition that a defendant traffics in stolen goods by
using them in an enterprise and later selling the product of
that enterprise. Certainly, one who steals electricity with
the intent to illuminate his marijuana grow house does not
traffic in stolen electricity when he later sells cannabis
grown under an illicitly powered sun lamp. We decline to
expand the meaning of the trafficking statute through the
artifice of the State's "stream of commerce"
theory; in fact, we are forbidden to do so. §
775.021(1), Fla. Stat. (2014) (directing that provisions of
the Florida Criminal Code "shall be strictly
most, the evidence in this case indicated that Rodriguez put
the stolen herbicide to the "normal use of consumption,
"-i.e. controlling weeds on his farm. Williams,
590 So.2d at 516. Because the State failed to prove a prima
facie case of dealing in stolen ...