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Restitution – “Victim” – Governmental Entity – School District

State v. Derick G. Vanbeek, 2009 WI App 37, PFR filed 3/13/09
For Vanbeek: Donald T. Lang, SPD, Madison Appellate

Issue/Holding: On conviction for making a false bomb scare, § 947.015, Vanbeek is liable in restitution to the school district for salaries and benefits paid to teachers and staff during the resulting 4-hour evacuation, because the school district was a “direct victim” of the crime.

¶11      By contrast, where the conduct involved in the crime considered at sentencing is directed at government property, the owner of that property is entitled to restitution. Thus, in Howard-Hastings, the government was entitled to restitution as the direct victim of the defendant’s acts of vandalism where the defendant was convicted of criminal damage to property after cutting down several government owned “telephone-type poles.”  Howard-Hastings, 218 Wis. 2d at 154, 157-58;see also Haase, 293 Wis. 2d 322, ¶16 (citing favorably the analysis in State v. Dillon, 637 P.2d 602 (Ore. 1981), in which the court upheld a restitution order for the cost to repair a patrol car that the defendant intentionally rammed with his vehicle and for which the defendant was convicted of criminal mischief).

¶12      Here, Vanbeek likens the staff at the Markesan School District to the police officers in Ortiz and Haase, contending that the direct victims of his false bomb scare were those who evacuated the building, and not the school district. This argument misses the mark. Vanbeek conveyed a false threat to destroy school district property, which resulted in an evacuation and a direct loss to the school district. There is no doubt that the conduct involved in the crime considered at sentencing—conveying a threat to destroy school district property by means of explosives—was directed at the school district. Vanbeek left the bomb scare note on school district property and the note threatened to destroy school district property.


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