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United States v. Doran

January 11, 1962


Author: Kiley

Before SCHNACKENBERG, KNOCH and KILEY, Circuit Judges.

KILEY, Circuit Judge.

The defendants Abbrescia, Doran, and Grieco have appealed from judgments on verdicts finding them guilty of conspiracy to use the mails in a scheme to defraud*fn1 and of unlawfully causing the transportation in interstate commerce of forged or falsely altered securities.*fn2 LoCelso appeals from the judgment on the verdict finding him guilty of the conspiracy. Abbrescia was sentenced to prison for ten years, Doran for twenty-five years, Grieco for fifteen years, and LoCelso for two years.

There is ample proof of the unlawful scheme in detail: Cab drivers would seek out nightlife-bound visitors in Chicago and drive them to the Show Lounge. There they would be drawn into the net of an unlawful scheme by companionable female employees of the Lounge. The unlawful aim of these companions was to exhaust the cash reserves of the victims and aid in inducing, as quickly as possible, drunkenness by means of frequent or spiked drinks. Once out of cash, the victims were induced to sign checks already "made." Once written, the checks were used as models for tracing forged copies. The copies were then used in various ruses to induce the writing of additional or substitute checks. First endorsements were generally fictitious to give the appearance of genuineness and to conceal the culprits. The checks were negotiated to persons like Grieco, and institutions like the 24-hour Shopping Center, having bank accounts. The checks were deposited in the accounts and thus placed in channels which led to the mails and eventually to the drawee banks in Illinois and other states.

LoCelso was a cab driver; Grieco owner of the 24-hour Shopping Center, whose bank account and his own were at the Merchants National Bank in Chicago; Abbresica was manager of the Lounge and Doran his assistant.*fn3 They were convicted under the conspiracy Counts One, Two, and Six. None of them testified at the trial.

Abbrescia and Grieco were sentenced to five years, and LoCelso to two years, on each count, the sentences to run concurrently. Doran was sentenced to five years on each count, the sentences to be served consecutively.

The defendants claim that the evidence does not support the jury's verdicts as to these counts.

The first question is, therefore, whether there is substantial evidence, taking the view most favorable to the Government, to support the verdicts. Glasser v. United States, 315 U.S. 60, 80, 62 S. Ct. 457, 86 L. Ed. 680 (1941); United States v. Maroy, 7 Cir., 248 F.2d 663, 665, cert. denied, 355 U.S. 931, 78 S. Ct. 412, 2 L. Ed. 2d 414 (1957).

The evidence and inferences favorable to the Government, United States v. Green, 7 Cir., 246 F.2d 155, 157, cert. denied, 355 U.S. 871, 78 S. Ct. 122, 2 L. Ed. 2d 76 (1957), in proof of defendants' participation in the conspiracy are: LoCelso was one of the cab drivers who brought victims to the Show Lounge. He shared in the division of a percentage of the proceeds of the unlawful conspiracy. He would "half drag and half stagger" the victims to a cab for return to their hotel or "some place." He drove victim McDonald to the Show Lounge, presented him to Abbrescia, and McDonald was defrauded. He also drove victim Siehl to the Lounge and later to a brothel. He received a "gratuity" from Siehl of a $350 check which he deposited with a cab company credit union and later withdrew.

Also: Grieco owned the 24-hour Shopping Center and the Show Lounge. The first fraudulent check taken was of victim Bardin, dated September 21, 1956, drawn on a North Carolina bank. It was endorsed by Shopping Center and deposited in its account with Merchants National Bank of Chicago, where Grieco also had his personal account No. 20284. The check was not paid by the drawee and was returned "Payment Refused Amount Altered." Merchants National debited Shopping Center's account accordingly and notified it of the dishonor of the Bardin check.

And: Subsequently, victim Wyman's check, dated December 4, 1956, subject of Count One, was taken. It was "made" in printing similar to Doran's and drawn against the Goodwine State Bank of Potomac, Illinois. It bears the endorsements "Jack Johnson; Shopping Center; J. Grieco, 2946 W. Madison; Merchants." Grieco wrote his endorsement. The check was received by the Goodwine bank and returned dishonored. It had not been put through a "bad check" detecting device that Shopping Center had had installed which photographs checks and presenters of checks. The device was installed under a contract indemnifying Shopping Center against loss from "bad checks." The contract required all Shopping Center's checks to be processed.

The jury could reasonably conclude from the evidence and inferences in the record that Abbrescia and LoCelso were members of the unlawful scheme of which Wyman was a victim: and that Doran "made" the fraudulent Wyman check and that the first endorser was fictitious.

Once shown to be a part of the conspiracy, Grieco is responsible "for all that may be or has been done." Poliafico v. United States, 6 Cir., 237 F.2d 97, 104, cert. denied, 352 U.S. 1025, 77 S. Ct. 590, 1 L. Ed. 2d 597 (1956). His participation need not have been shown by direct evidence. Ibid. Since a check drawn on a New Jersey bank was returned dishonored in eighteen days, the jury could reasonably infer that the Bardin check was returned from the North Carolina bank, and Shopping Center notified, within the eighty-one days before the Wyman check was written. And it could conclude that Grieco, as owner of the Shopping Center, knew of notice of the returned Bardin check and with that guilty knowledge endorsed the Wyman check.

Venue was proved with respect to the Wyman check. It was made in Chicago, deposited in a conspirator's account in Chicago, mailed in Chicago and returned in the mail to Chicago. There was proof of defendants' mailing the check. Evidence of the ordinary course of banking business and Post Office Department customs was substantial proof of the mailing, Decker v. United States, 4 Cir., 140 F.2d 378, 379, cert. denied, 321 U.S. 792, 64 S. Ct. 791, 88 L. Ed. 1082 (1944), and Grieco's business experience and consequent knowledge of ordinary ...

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