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The People v. Moyer

SEPTEMBER 10, 1971.




APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Macon County; the Hon. ALBERT G. WEBBER III, Judge, presiding.


Rehearing denied October 15, 1971.

Defendant, William Moyer, was tried by jury on a two-count indictment charging forgery and theft, and found guilty on both counts. The court entered a judgment of conviction on forgery and sentenced defendant for a term of five to ten years.

The evidence presented by the State was that a man telephoned the Bachrach Clothing Store in Decatur, spoke to one Ann Bond, an office employee there, and stated that he was Homer Everman and wished to open a charge account for his son-in-law, named William Jones, to use with a credit limit of not over $500. Ann Bond wrote the information given her about Homer Everman on a card which she testified was a credit application. She ran a credit check on Everman and found his credit approved. Later on the same day, defendant appeared at the store and identified himself as William Jones. He signed the card as "William Jones." Thereafter, he purchased items of clothing at the store, returned some of the merchandise, and signed purchase slips "William Jones" which were charged to Homer Everman.

Bills were sent by the store to Everman for these purchases, but Everman did not pay them. He testified that he did not start the charge account or authorize anyone to do so, nor did he make the telephone call or know about it. Moyer was arrested and identified as the person who purchased the merchandise.

Defendant testified that he telephoned the store and informed a lady who answered that he was William Jones, wished to open a charge account, and gave Homer Everman, his step-father, as a credit reference. He testified that he did not use the name Moyer because he had a penitentiary past which had ruined his credit. He had, on various other occasions, used the name "Jones" on employment applications.

The defendant here contends: (1) that the forgery indictment is fatally defective; (2) that the theft indictment is defective, and at most can be theft only under $150; (3) that the prosecutor improperly referred in oral argument to a prior conviction of the defendant; and (4) that the evidence failed to prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

The forgery indictment charged that defendant "committed the offense of Forgery, in violation of Chapter 38, Section 17-3 Ill. Rev. Stat., 1967, in that with the intent to defraud and permanently deprive another, he made a document apparently capable of defrauding another in that he knowingly and without authority signed the name of William Jones, a name known to him to be fictitious, to sales receipts of Bachrach Clothing Store on the account of Homer Everman, * * * and, representing himself to be William Jones, a person authorized to charge the account of Homer Everman, signed said sales receipts and did thereby obtain items of clothing charged to the account of Homer Everman, and further executed an application for credit on the account of Homer Everman, signing the name of William Jones, a name known to him to be fictitious, * * * ".

The requirements of an indictment are set forth in Ill. Rev. Stat. 1969, ch. 38, par. 111-3. The purpose of the charge contained in the indictment is to inform the accused of the nature and cause of the accusation against him. (Ill. Const. 1870, Art. II, Sec. 9.) Formerly, two general methods of drafting the indictment existed. Either the offense could be charged in the language of the statute or by stating the facts which constituted the crime. People v. Barnes (1924), 314 Ill. 140, 145 N.E. 391.

In charging forgery of a written instrument, it was held that the instrument should be described according to its tenor (that is, by setting out the very words of the instrument) or its purport (that is, by stating its substance). People v. Nickols (1945), 391 Ill. 565, 63 N.E.2d 759, held that it was not necessary that the indictment describe the instrument both by its purport and by its tenor, yet where it attempts to do so, the two descriptions must be consistent.

The Code of Criminal Procedure (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1969, ch. 38, par. 100-1 et seq.) has eliminated many of the old pleading technicalities. The new Code seeks to secure simplicity in procedure and to do away with pleading technicalities. People ex rel. Miller v. Pate (1969), 42 Ill.2d 283, 246 N.E.2d 225, reviewed the cases dealing with sufficiency of the charge of forgery under the new Code and determined that an indictment, to be sufficient, did not need to have a tenor description, but that it was sufficient to describe the instrument in narrative form. This decision was based upon the determination that the prior decisions of that court requiring the setting forth in the indictment haec verbae or attaching a copy of the instrument in forgery cases was necessitated by the distinctions in the prior forgery statutes between forgery of negotiable instruments and other instruments, and that the new forgery statute is comprehensive and does not differentiate among instruments as to the penalty imposed or the elements of the offense. The indictment in the Miller case was based upon alteration of a stock certificate and specifically described the certificate and the manner of its alteration.

Testing the forgery indictment in light of the new Code of Criminal Procedure and the Miller case, while we may agree that the indictment was unartfully drafted, it did contain a narrative description of the instrument. It is evident that the indictment sufficiently informed the defendant of the charge he was called upon to defend. He testified to the execution and delivery of the documents charged, although denying the intent to defraud.

The record fails to disclose any motion in the trial court to quash the indictment or for a bill of particulars. The motion for new trial raised no issue of this now alleged insufficiency. The indictment is sufficient to bar a second prosecution for the same offense. Further, as we noted in People v. White (4th Dist. 1971), 267 N.E.2d 129, such defense may be raised from the record.

While the instruments which are the subject of this charge on the face of them or upon inspection of them show no tendency to defraud, the averments of the indictment state extrinsic facts sufficient to render them documents "apparently capable of defrauding" within the meaning of the statutory crime of forgery. (Ill. Rev. Stat., ch. 38, par. 17-3.) Such documents were the subject of a crime of forgery even prior to the present statute where averment was made of extrinsic facts showing the fraudulent character of their use. (People v. Routson (1934), 354 Ill. 573, 188 N.E. 883; Goodman v. People (1907), 228 Ill. 154, 81 N.E. 830; Klawanski v. People (1905), 218 Ill. 481, 75 N.E. 1028.) Here, the indictment alleged that the slips asserted authority to use the credit of Everman when in fact there was no such authority and they represented the defendant to be a person authorized to charge to such account, and that he signed a fictitious name ...

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