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Dept. of Public Aid v. Greenlee

OPINION FILED JULY 3, 1978.

THE DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC AID, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,

v.

CLARA GREENLEE, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Lake County; the Hon. WARREN FOX, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE RECHENMACHER DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

This appeal involves the construction of section 11-21 of the Public Aid Code (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 23, par. 11-21). The defendant contends the State's application of section 11-21 places her in double jeopardy, contrary to the Illinois and United States constitutions.

The defendant applied for and received public aid. Later, she failed to report to the Department of Public Aid that she had become employed, so that she continued to receive public aid to the extent $4,053.12, to which she was not entitled.

Upon learning of the defendant's failure to report her earnings from employment, the State indicted the defendant under section 11-21 of the Public Aid Code, which states:

"Any person who by means of any false statement, willful misrepresentation, or failure to notify the county department or the local governmental unit, as the case may be, of a change in his status as required by Sections 11-18 and 11-19, for the purpose of preventing the denial, cancellation or suspension of his grant, or a variation in the amount thereof, or through other fraudulent device obtains or attempts to obtain, or aids or abets any person in obtaining financial aid under this Code to which he is not entitled, shall be guilty of a Class A misdemeanor."

On May 19, 1975, the defendant pleaded guilty to a charge of fraud under section 11-21 and was sentenced to one year conditional discharge. On June 26, 1975, the Department of Public Aid filed a complaint against the defendant under section 11-18 of the Public Aid Code, which provides as follows:

"It is the duty of every applicant and recipient to notify promptly the county department or the supervisor of general assistance, as the case may be, of any change of status with respect to his property, or need, or family composition, amount of income, money contributions and other support, from whatever source, occurring, in the case of an applicant, between the time of his filing an application for financial aid and the issuance of the grant, and, in the case of a recipient, occurring at any time during the period that he receives financial aid.

If an applicant or recipient fails to give prompt notice of changes in his circumstances, and as a result financial aid is given to which he is not entitled, he shall be liable to the county department or to the local governmental unit, as the case may be, for refunding a sum of money up to but not in excess of the entire amount of financial aid provided. Unless the refund is made the amount may be recovered in a civil action."

In addition to providing that a person who receives public aid he is not entitled to by reason of failure to report a change in status, shall be guilty of a Class A misdemeanor, section 11-21 also contains a paragraph making a false statement or willful misrepresentation, made for the purpose of obtaining public aid, punishable as perjury, and in a third paragraph provides (a) for the recovery in a civil action, of any amounts of public aid wrongfully received and (b) further provides as follows:

"If fraud is proven in such action, the court may as a penalty assess an additional sum of money, up to but not in excess of the entire amount of aid provided, against the recipient or against any person who wilfully aided the recipient. If assessed, the penalty shall be included in any judgment entered for the aid received, and paid to the county department or the local governmental unit, as the case may be."

Under the language quoted in (b) above, the State sought and was granted leave to amend the original complaint to add a second count in pertinent part as follows:

"10. That Section 11-21 of Chapter 23 of Illinois Revised Statutes provides in part that if fraud is proven the Court may assess as a penalty an additional sum of money up to but not in excess of the entire amount of aid provided against the recipient or any person who willfully aided the recipient.

WHEREFORE Plaintiff prays the Court assess the sum of Four Thousand Fifty Three and 12/100 ($4053.12) as a penalty in addition to the judgment demanded in Count I."

The defendant moved for summary judgment on count II of the amended complaint on the ground that she had been indicted and had pleaded guilty and had been sentenced to one-year conditional discharge for the same offense, which sentence she had served. Therefore, she contended, the imposition of an additional penalty equal to the amount of the judgment for aid wrongfully received, and for which she was civilly liable, would amount to double jeopardy — that is, she would suffer the punishment of ...


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