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People v. Adams

FEBRUARY 27, 1969.




Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. HERBERT R. FRIEDLUND, Judge, presiding. Affirmed. MR. PRESIDING JUSTICE SULLIVAN DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT.

This is an appeal from a conviction for theft in the amount of $11,248.44. Trial was by jury, and the court imposed a sentence of one to five years in the State Institution in Dwight, Illinois.

The defendant contends: 1) that she was not proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt; 2) that the court erred in not discharging her under the Four-Term Statute; 3) that there was a fatal variance between the indictment and the proof; 4) that evidence was improperly excluded; and 5) that the trial court and the prosecution were guilty of misconduct which would justify a reversal of the conviction.

On August 31, 1962, the defendant was employed as a cashier at the Wells-Harrison Currency Exchange which was one of eight currency exchanges comprising the Regal Currency Exchange System, Inc. She had been initially employed by the system in 1948 and had spent some time working in the company's main office. While working in the main office, the defendant worked with Bea Fogle who daily checked the reports of the various cashiers in each of the eight exchanges.

Each cashier was required to make out daily reports which were sent to the main office to be checked by Bea Fogle. These reports indicated the amount of money on hand at the beginning of the day, the amount of money which was deposited with the bank, the amount of money which was shipped from the bank to the exchange, the amount of checks that were cashed, and other data which reflected all other services performed at that exchange for a given day. In addition to this daily report, the cashier submitted fee sheets and duplicate deposit tickets which were dated by the cashier and which showed the content and the amount of the day's deposit. The shipments and deposits were transported by the Armored Express Company. The money shipped to the exchange was credited to an account maintained by the exchange at the Exchange National Bank. The money that was deposited was debited to this account. Tickets debiting and crediting the account were sent to the main office.

The evidence produced by the State was designed to show that the defendant had embezzled funds by reporting that deposits were made on a particular day when in fact such deposits were made several days later and by not reporting the receipt of money shipments from the bank until several days after such shipments were actually received. Such a manipulation of the reported dates of shipments and deposits would enable the defendant to continue to cover up an increasing shortage of funds. Such a procedure would have the effect of decreasing the amount of cash that the defendant should have on hand at the exchange if the dates of the shipments and deposits had been correctly recorded in her daily reports.

Mr. Abe Greenfield, the President of the Regal Currency Exchange System, Inc., testified for the prosecution. He stated that the theft did not become immediately apparent to him because he treated the delays as items "in transit" between the exchange and the bank. However, in February, 1962, the bank notified him that his account was overdrawn in the sum of $22,000. Subsequently he was notified of other instances of overdrafts. In order to determine whether these overdrafts were caused by delays in the transporting by Armored Express, he went to the exchange operated by the defendant to check Armored's receipt book which was kept at the exchange and which contained the date of each pickup signed by the Armored messenger. The dates in the book had been obliterated, and the defendant informed him that the book had fallen into a pail of water. Greenfield then made a detailed comparison between the daily reports and the bank statements, whereupon he discovered that there had been as much as a four-day delay between the time of actual deposits and the date such deposits were recorded by the defendant. Delays were also found in the reporting of money shipments. The witness made an unannounced check at the exchange on August 31, 1962, after being advised by Bea Fogle that the defendant had requested that three shipments be made on that day. One shipment was in the amount of $9,400 and the other two shipments were each $10,500. Greenfield was met at the exchange by an investigator from the United States Fidelity and Casualty Company and by Richard Wayne of the Burns Detective Agency.

Greenfield further testified that he counted the defendant's cash on hand which amounted to approximately $3,000, which revealed about a $700 shortage. He noticed that the defendant had reported only one of the two $10,500 shipments which were supposed to have been made that day. If this shipment had been reported, the record would have revealed a shortage of about $11,200. The witness stated that he told the two men that there was a $700 shortage but also that there was a possibility of a much larger shortage.

On the next day, September 1, 1962, Greenfield received the tickets from the bank which revealed that the two $10,500 shipments had in fact been made on August 31. Accompanied by a Chicago Police Officer, Richard O'Leary, the complaining witness went to the exchange and discovered a completed daily report for the prior day which reported both shipments but which was not the same report he had reviewed with the defendant on August 31. Greenfield again counted the money in the outer safe which still amounted to about $3,000. This still indicated a shortage of about $11,200. Mr. Greenfield denied that he ever had a key to the inner safe and he denied that $13,000 was placed into the inner safe on August 31, 1962.

George Klauser, the chief auditor for the State's Attorney's Office in the financial and fraud division, testified for the State that he conducted an audit of the books and records of the exchange for the period from January 31, 1962, to August 31, 1962. He compared the deposits as listed in the daily report with the bank statement and the records of Armored Express so as to determine precisely when these deposits were picked up and deposited in the bank. Mr. Klauser stated that his audit revealed a systematic pattern of delayed deposits which occurred at the end of every week and at the end of every month and that in May and June the delays occurred more frequently. He further testified to some delays in the reporting of money shipments to the exchange. As a result of these manipulations, the witness stated that on August 31, 1962, there was a shortage of $11,248.44.

The prosecution also presented the testimony of Captain David Purtell of the Chicago Police Department's Scientific Crime Detection Laboratory. The witness was firmly established as an expert in the field of document analysis. It was his conclusion, based upon a series of scientific tests of the Armored Express' Receipt Book, that the obliterations of dates contained therein could not have been caused by the book's falling into a pail of water and then being retrieved.

The defendant attempted to show that there was about $13,000 on hand on August 31, 1962, and that at some time between that date and September 4, 1962, when Armored opened the empty inner safe, someone had taken the money from the inner safe, thus creating the shortage. The defense called one Cora Perry, a former employee of the system, who stated that she believed the main office had a key to the inner safe but that she did not know if such was the case after February, 1962, since she left the system's employ at that time. The defense next called Mr. Walter Williams, an accountant and an admitted friend of the defendant's husband, who testified that he conducted an audit for the month of August, 1962, and found no wrongdoing on the part of the defendant. On cross-examination, it became apparent that the witness had not concerned himself with the timing of the recorded deposits and shipments. Officer O'Leary, also an admitted friend of the defendant, was presented in an apparent attempt to impeach Greenfield's testimony that there never was $13,000 on hand on August 31, 1962. On cross-examination, this witness' direct examination was impeached to the extent that O'Leary in no way controverted the testimony of Greenfield.

In urging that the facts adduced at trial do not establish the guilt of the defendant, the defendant places great stress on the fact that the alleged thefts were not detected for a period of months and thereby attempts to point the finger of guilt at someone other than the accused. There is nothing in the record to support this contention. Greenfield explained the "in transit" treatment given to the deposits and shipments. The testimony of the State's auditor clearly revealed a systematic pattern of delays in the reporting of shipments and deposits. Greenfield's testimony, if accepted by the triers of fact would support a guilty finding. There was also the testimony of the State's document expert casting doubt on the manner of the obliteration of the dates in the Armored Express' receipt book. The verdict indicates that the jury accepted the testimony of the State's witnesses rather than that offered by the defense. The credibility of the witnesses was a matter of determination for the triers of fact, and upon review of the record, we find no reason to disturb the jury's finding.

The next issue raised is whether the defendant was brought to trial within the required period as set forth under the Four-Term Act (c 38, § 748, Ill Rev Stats 1961 (now c 38, § 103-5)). Section 748 reads in pertinent part:

". . . If any such person shall have been admitted to bail for an alleged offense, other than a capital offense, he shall be entitled, on demand, to be tried within four months after such demand: Provided, that if the court shall be satisfied that due exertion has been made to procure the evidence on behalf of the People and that there is reasonable ground to believe such evidence ...

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