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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:Ronnie Ray Huse moved his elderly mother into the Golden Age Manor Nursing Center in Dublin in April 2001. Until he could do what was needed to get his mother on Medicaid, Huse agreed to pay for his mother’s care privately. Bobbie Nichols, the owner of the nursing home, received notice in May that Huse had submitted a Medicaid application in April but that processing was being delayed. Nichols also learned in September that the application had been delayed because Huse did not set up a Medicaid trust account, as was required. Huse declined Nichols’ offer to set up an account, saying he would do it himself, but when he did not, Nichols set one up. Nichols notified Huse of the balance owing in October. In December, Huse paid an amount to bring the account current through November. On Dec. 26, Nichols told Huse that payment for December was due. Huse said Medicaid was supposed to pay. When Medicaid did not pay, Nichols wrote a demand letter on March 5, 2002, to Huse giving him until March 15 to bring the account current. Huse wrote a check for $8,107, but the check bounced due to insufficient funds. Huse promised to send another check, but he did not. Nichols sent Huse another demand letter, which went unclaimed. Nichols left a phone message indicating that she was going to file criminal charges; Nichols responded, saying he would come by with another check, but he never did. Nor did he send an overnight replacement check as he promised. Huse’s mother continued to reside at the nursing home through this time, in part because Nichols arranged for the woman’s VA and Social Security benefits to be deposited into the Medicaid account. When Medicaid eventually approved the application, it paid retroactively. However, even the Medicaid payment did not bring the amount current, as the agreement required Huse to pay the first $1,500 per month. Huse was charged with theft of service. Nichols testified that at the time of trial, Nichols owed approximately $10,000. Huse was convicted and now challenges the sufficiency of the evidence on appeal. He argues that the check that he wrote (the one that bounced) was for past services, not future ones, so it was not used to “secure” service, as required by Texas Penal Code �31.04(a). HOLDING:Affirmed. The court says this case falls between the two extremes of the statute’s application: “In the first instance, because the services were provided before the check was tendered, it cannot be said that the vendor relied upon it or that [Huse] secured anything with it. In the latter, assuming no services would have been provided without the prepayment, it can be safely said that the vendor relied upon the check and that [Huse] successfully secured services with it.” In this case, Huse’s check was for services previously rendered, but Huse’s mother was allowed to stay at Golden Age after it received the bounced check. The court finds that this constitutes a violation because Golden Age relied upon the check to continue caring for Huse’s mother. The court finds that the indictment required the state to prove that Huse secured services worth at least $1,500, but not more than $20,000, using the insufficient-fund check. Despite Huse’s many representations, there is no evidence that the check affected Golden Age’s judgment prior to March 15, 2003, or that Huse secured any prior services with it. Consequently, Huse’s conviction cannot be supported by the $8,107 he owed on March 15. Nonetheless, it is undisputed that Golden Age allowed Huse’s mother to stay at the nursing home after the check was dishonored, and that Huse’s account continued to accrue charges for services. Subtracting the balance due on March 15 from the balance due at trial, there is still approximately $2,000 of nonreimbursed charges after the check. The court finds that those charges ultimately can be attributed to the check. The court finds it cannot say, as a matter of law, that Golden Age was precluded from any reliance on Huse’s check after learning it had been dishonored. Why the nursing home continued to allow Huse’s mother to stay and the extent of the damage they incurred because of his check are inherently fact questions. The jury heard evidence that Huse made a payment in response to a demand letter. It saw Huse’s bank statements that showed he did not have enough money to cover the check. The jury was entitled to infer that Huse sent the check so that Golden Age would continue to provide services for his mother. Huse’s deceptive conduct, and other surrounding circumstances also support the jury’s finding that Golden Age relied on the check that bounced to continue its services. The court adds that the indictment provided due process by giving Huse adequate notice of the charges he faced. His conviction was also consistent with the allegations in the indictment. OPINION:Strange, J.; Wright, C.J., and McCall and Strange, JJ.

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