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People v. Rance





APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. WARREN F. WOLFSON, Judge, presiding.


Following a jury trial, defendant was convicted of theft and conspiracy. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 38, pars. 16-1 and 8-2(a).) The trial court vacated the conspiracy conviction but sentenced defendant to four years' probation for theft, the first year to be served in periodic imprisonment. On appeal, defendant contends that the alleged corporate existence of the theft victim was not proven, that the trial court erroneously denied his motion to vacate the jury's verdict, and that he was not proven guilty of theft beyond a reasonable doubt.

The following pertinent evidence was adduced at trial.

Alan James Anderson

He works for CNA Insurance, and from mid-1973 to the end of 1975 was manager of the general group claims department. Claims processing by that department would begin when an insured sent in a claim and supporting documentation. Either the name on the claim or its number would be checked to determine that the claimant was a member of an insured group. The claim and a relevant claim file were then given to the appropriate claim adjuster, who would determine the amount, if any, of payable benefits, would complete a form authorizing such payments, and would give this form to a typist who would prepare a draft for the indicated amount. The draft would then go to a draft signer who would verify it for correctness and, if correct, authorize it by signature. The draft would then consist of the original and four carbon copies. The original and the last copy would be sent to the payee. The third copy is mailed to the payee's employer. The second copy would become part of the claim file, and the first copy, which was blue, would be for data processing. From mid-1973 to mid-1974, the group claims draft typists were Andrea Austin, Karen Kasmark and Angelique Woods. The draft signer was Joyce Mitchell. Defendant Dan Anthony Rance was one of the department's claim adjusters, and had access to all claim files in the storage area.

On cross-examination he acknowledged that there were 13 or 14 claim adjusters, that draft typists were not assigned to any particular adjuster, and that all of the department's employees had access to the claim file room.

Oliver T. Pearson

He works for CNA Insurance and in August of 1974 was the supervisor of the lost draft control department. Drafts were paid by a process involving a daily acceptance of drafts from the Harris Trust Bank. CNA checked the drafts, and authorized payment on those which have the correct draft signer's signature and endorsement. CNA authorizes Harris Trust to pay drafts which are found to be in order and returns unaccepted drafts to the bank.

Joyce Mitchell

She works for CNA Insurance Company and in December of 1973 was the draft signer in general group claims. She knew defendant Dan Anthony Rance to be one of group claims' adjusters, and Angelique Woods to be a draft typist. She corroborated Alan Anderson's account of how drafts were prepared and how many copies were kept. The blue processing copy would go to her desk. Blank draft forms were kept in an unlocked cabinet which all draft typists had access to. Her standard procedure is to count the number of blue copies on her desk every night before she leaves work, and to recount them the following morning. On the evening of June 10, 1974, she had 181 blue copies on her desk, while on the following morning, June 11, she had 186 blue copies. She checked through the copies and found the five extra ones. Those five all lacked the insured's address, were typed in a type face bigger than the one normally used and bore the name "Joyce Mitchell" in a signature which was not her handwriting. She had not authorized anyone to sign her signature. She gave these five copies to Ann Evans, her supervisor. She identified an additional 36 documents as CNA drafts that bore the signature "Joyce Mitchell." That signature was not her own, and she did not authorize anyone else to sign her name for her.

On cross-examination she admitted that she knew Dan Anthony Rance was an ordained minister and that she used to see him in church every Sunday. She acknowledged that she never saw Rance with any of the documents she testified to, and that she never saw him sign her name.

Frank D. Arion

In 1974 he was an internal auditor for CNA Insurance. On June 11, 1974, he was instructed to check whether any fraudulent drafts had been issued out of the group claims department. He subsequently talked to Joyce Mitchell and was shown the five blue copies of drafts which she testified to. He checked and could not find any files for those five claims, and he stopped payment on them. He inspected the file of drafts that had already been paid. In the file for Janitor's Local No. 1 he found 20 paid drafts which had been issued from April through June 1974. He checked and found that Janitor's Local No. 1's insurance policy had been cancelled as of February 1, 1974. He could not find any claim forms, doctor bills or other documentation of claims for those 20 drafts. From June 11, 1974, until sometime in August, he found a total of 36 drafts for which he could not find claim files documentation.

On cross-examination he explained that because Janitor's Local No. 1's policy was cancelled on February 1, 1974, CNA would continue to pay claims that occurred before that date, even if they arrived late, ...

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