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People v. Cicchetti

NOVEMBER 23, 1971.




APPEAL from the Circuit Court of DeWitt County; the Hon. WILLIAM C. CALVIN, Judge, presiding.


Defendant Mario Louis Cicchetti was convicted, on a plea of guilty, of theft of property having value in excess of $150, and was sentenced to an indeterminate term of two to five years.

Defendant's appeal presents a single issue: does the indictment sufficiently allege ownership of the property in question? The pertinent language of the indictment is as follows: "* * * committed the offense of Theft Exceeding $150.00 * * * Assorted United States' Currency * * * then and there being the property of Clinton Place, Inc., * * *".

Defendant's argument consists of two propositions: a) That the words "Clinton Place, Inc." do not describe a legal entity, or, to put it another way, the language does not allege that "Clinton Place" is a corporation, and b) that to plead that certain goods are "the property of" an individual or legal entity is not equivalent to alleging "ownership."

The People cite People v. Tassone, 41 Ill.2d 7, 241 N.E.2d 419 as authority for the sufficiency of the indictment in question here. Tassone, supra, is not in point because the sufficiency of the evidence was the only issue ruled upon, no question being raised as to the sufficiency of the indictment.

Defendant cites The People v. Hill, 68 Ill. App.2d 369, 216 N.E.2d 212 in support of his contention that the corporate existence of Clinton Place, Inc., is not alleged. In Hill, supra, the Complaint alleged that the defendant committed theft of certain goods "* * * the property of Community Discount Store * * *." The Court held that the words "Community Discount Store," standing alone, did not describe a corporate entity. Hill is readily distinguishable from this case for the obvious reason that the abbreviation "Inc." is affixed as a part of the corporate name in the indictment.

Ill. Rev. Stat. 1969, ch. 32, par. 157.9(a), provides that "The corporate name: a) Shall contain, separate and apart from any other word or abbreviation in such name, the word `corporation', `company', `incorporated', or `limited', or an abbreviation of one of such words." This paragraph of the Business Corporation Act directs what terms must be utilized in a name to designate corporate status to the public. The abbreviation "Inc." is a designation authorized by the statute.

In People v. Voleta, 57 Ill. App.2d 279, 206 N.E.2d 737 the defendant had been convicted of theft and urged on appeal that there was a fatal variance between the information which, he maintained, charged him with theft of the property of an individual, while the proof established corporate ownership. At page 285 of the opinion the Court stated, "We have examined the information; it alleged that the property was stolen from `Gerts Lumbard and Company.' The word `company' connotes an incorporated entity under the Business Corporation Act (Ill. Rev. Stats., 1963, c. 32, sec. 157.9a); therefore ownership was properly alleged." The same reasoning is applicable to the statutorily authorized abbreviation "Inc." contained in the indictment here in question.

In People v. Smith, 342 Ill. 600, 174 N.E. 828 a case not cited in the briefs, defendant was charged with burglary and larceny. In reviewing the denial of a motion to quash the indictment the Court stated "The indictment describes the place burglarized as `the poultry house of Risser & Rabinowitz, Inc.,' and the property stolen therefrom as the property of `Risser & Rabinowitz, Inc.'" The Court then held: "In indictments for offenses against persons or property the name of the person injured must be stated in order to enable the defendant to plead either a former acquittal or conviction. The ownership of the property is a necessary averment of the indictment, and such ownership must be alleged in a person, corporation or other entity capable of owning property . . . The word `Inc.' is given in Webster's International Dictionary and has as a definition, `Abbr.-Incorporated.' We are of the opinion that the words `Risser & Rabinowitz, Inc.' in the indictment are sufficient to show that the ownership of the property was in a corporation capable of owning property and was a sufficient allegation of ownership to enable plaintiffs in error to plead either a former acquittal or conviction."

The meaning of plain language is neither lost nor altered when incorporated in an indictment. There is nothing in this charge which could have misled defendant in preparing a defense, or place him in danger of being put twice in jeopardy for the same offense.

The above cited authority is controlling here, and conclusively disposes of defendant's semantical contentions.

Judgment affirmed.

SMITH, P.J., and TRAPP, J., ...

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