Request for Severance of Counts on Indictment

In Shimek v. State, 610 So. 2d 632 (Fla. 1st DCA 1992), the appellant, an attorney, sought before trial to have one count of grand theft severed both from other counts of grand theft and from a count of racketeering. The appellant contended that severance was necessary because one grand theft count (the "Skipper" count) involved investing settlement funds of a client of his legal practice in a bank that engaged in questionable practices, whereas the other grand theft counts (the "Pierce-LaCoste" counts) involved investors sought by the appellant or the principals of that same bank. The appellant argued that the count involving his client was not related in an episodic sense to the other grand theft counts or to the racketeering count, but the trial court denied the motion to sever. In concluding that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying the motion to sever, the district court noted several relationships between the Skipper and Pierce-LaCoste counts: the appellant and several principals of the subject bank were involved in each set of counts; each set of counts centered on an investment scheme involving the subject bank; and in each set of counts the appellant used his attorney trust account to channel funds to the subject bank. See id. at 636-37. The district court concluded not only that the Skipper and Pierce-LaCoste grand theft counts were related to each other and constituted predicate acts for the racketeering count, but also that the grand theft counts were linked to the racketeering count in such a way that a unified trial on all of the grand theft counts and the racketeering count was justified. See id. at 640.