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East Ventura County Edition

AGOURA : Investment Banker's Conviction Upheld

March 10, 1994|MACK REED

For the second time, a state appeals court has upheld the 1992 theft and conspiracy conviction of Charles J. Francoeur, a former Agoura investment banker.

The California 2nd District Court of Appeal also shaved eight months off Francoeur's sentence, ruling that he had been double-sentenced for a theft count and should serve only seven years in state prison.

Francoeur has been free on bail pending appeal. But Deputy Dist. Atty. Rebecca Riley, who prosecuted the case, said his status probably will be reviewed when the appeals court returns the case to Superior Court Judge Frederick Jones, who tried the case.

Riley said she would rather the appeals court had left Francoeur's full seven-year, eight-month sentence intact, but she is glad this chapter of the case is closed.

Francoeur could not be reached Wednesday for comment, but his attorney, Wendy Lascher, said "he wasn't happy" with the ruling.

"I think there's an issue for the California Supreme Court here, and we're going to petition for a review," Lascher said. She said she will argue the jury was not properly instructed that a conviction for theft must be based partly on proof that Francoeur intended to permanently deprive his victim of property--proof that was lacking at trial.

In 1991, Francoeur and Olen B. Phillips became the targets of an 81-count indictment by the Ventura County grand jury on charges that they bilked 21 investors out of more than $3 million in complicated land investment deals.

But after a complex four-month trial, the jury only convicted Phillips of one theft charge and Francoeur of four counts of theft and one of conspiracy.

The pair appealed their convictions. Last year, the appeals court upheld the convictions and agreed that eight months should be taken off Francoeur's sentence.

Francoeur alone asked for a rehearing by the appeals court, which held a second hearing and then made the same ruling again on on Tuesday.

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