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People v. Griffin

OPINION FILED DECEMBER 20, 1982.

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,

v.

CHRISTOPHER GRIFFIN, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Arthur J. Cieslik, Judge, presiding.

PRESIDING JUSTICE CAMPBELL DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Rehearing denied March 28, 1983.

Defendant Christopher Griffin was found guilty by a jury of four counts of theft and four related counts of conspiracy to commit theft based upon four purchases of luxury items at jewelry and gift stores. Defendant was sentenced to four consecutive terms of five years of the theft and conspiracy convictions. On appeal, defendant raises the following issues: (1) whether the trial court's comments concerning an agreement between a witness and the State were proper; (2) whether the trial court erred in giving to the jury non-IPI jury instruction; (3) whether remarks made by the prosecution during closing argument constituted error; (4) whether the trial court erred in admitting testimony of a credit card company investigator and a police investigator concerning a prior arrest of defendant; (5) whether the admission of evidence concerning other crimes which defendant committed with a witness was proper; (6) whether other miscellaneous errors warrant reversal and a new trial; (7) whether the double jeopardy clause bars retrial because of alleged prosecutorial or judicial overreaching; and (8) whether it was error to convict defendant of conspiracy to commit theft where defendant was also convicted of a completed crime.

Since defendant does not contest the sufficiency of the evidence which resulted in his convictions, we need not review the evidence in great detail.

Defendant Christopher Griffin and Dorothy Collins were charged in four indictments with theft and conspiracy to commit theft: (1) of a watch valued at about $2,464 from Lebolt & Co. and/or Telecheck-Chicago Corporation; (2) of a watch valued at about $8,437 from Kay Water Tower Corporation and/or J.B.S. Associates; (3) of a ring at about $2,332 from Rogers Enterprises and/or Telecheck Chicago, Inc; and (4) of luggage and other items from Green's Luggage and/or Telecredit, Inc. The indictments arose out of incidents which allegedly occurred on Sunday, March 9 and Monday, March 10, 1980. On motion of the State, the four indictments were consolidated for trial.

The record reveals that co-indictee Dorothy Collins and Elizabeth Campbell pleaded guilty to certain offenses, agreed to testify for the prosecution and agreed to make some restitution in exchange for the State's recommendation to the court that the women be given probation and work release. Prior to trial, a motion in limine was made by defendant. This motion sought to preclude the State from introducing evidence of other crimes allegedly committed by defendant which were charged in other indictments. The court ruled that only those indictments in which it was charged that defendant was accompanied by a female would be admissible.

At trial, the State offered the testimony of George Dilley, an investigator with Visa Card Services, First National Bank of Chicago. Dilley stated that in February 1980 he became concerned with defendant Christopher Griffin and that he had occasion in his professional capacity to know defendant. After the court sustained objections to subsequent questions by the State, the State informed the court that it was offering Dilley's testimony to show that Dilley went to the Chicago Police Department with a credit card application submitted by defendant and this would show why the State's next witness, Investigator James Kehoe of the Chicago Police Department, was able to obtain an arrest warrant for defendant in March 1980 on charges other than those for which defendant was on trial in the instant case. The State maintained that its investigation following the March 1980 arrest uncovered evidence which resulted in the indictment in the instant case. Dilley continued his testimony and stated that on March 31, 1980, he was responsible for the issuance of an arrest warrant for defendant.

Investigator Kehoe testified that he arrested defendant on March 31 and recounted the circumstances of the arrest to the jury. Kehoe also stated that he arrested a James Buck who gave his name as "James Roosevelt" in connection with a fraudulent credit card application allegedly made by Buck. In addition to the two men, Kehoe took Elizabeth Campbell, who was also present at the time of the arrests, to police headquarters. According to Kehoe defendant was given his Miranda warnings at the time of the arrest and prior to any subsequent interrogation. Over objection of defendant, Kehoe testified about a conversation which he had with defendant which the State argued was a declaration against penal interest. According to Kehoe, defendant stated that he saw nothing wrong with using the name "Dr. Christopher Griffin" on credit card applications and that everyone lies on credit card applications and he also lied. Kehoe stated that as a result of a conversation with Campbell which was held in the presence of an assistant State's Attorney, he was able to obtain a search warrant for Griffin's McClurg Court apartment. As a result of that search, Kehoe stated that he found documents with the name "Dorothy Collins" and that through an investigation, he learned that Collins had a prior arrest record for theft. The court then instructed the prosecution to connect the March arrest with the indictment for the crimes for which defendant was on trial in the instant case. Subsequently, Kehoe testified that as a result of his investigation of Dorothy Collins and defendant, defendant was indicted in May 1980 for the crimes herein and that Kehoe arrested defendant pursuant to a warrant.

Dorothy Collins testified to the circumstances surrounding her arrest and her plea agreement with the State. She described her first meeting with defendant and the circumstances of their relationship. Collins also testified about opening a checking account at a Chicago bank with defendant. Collins stated that defendant took her to Lebolt's Jewelry at Water Tower Place where a watch was purchased. Collins wrote a check in the amount of $2,464 at defendant's direction. Lebolt's utilized Telecheck, which was a check guarantee service. According to Collins, she did not have sufficient funds in her account to cover the purchase. Collins testified to a similar occurrence at Henry Kay Jewelers at Water Tower Place involving the purchase of a watch for $8,437. Henry Kay used J.B.S. Associates for check guarantees. Both of the foregoing occurred on Sunday, March 9, 1980, and, in both instances, payment on the checks was stopped.

Following the Henry Kay transaction, defendant and Collins went to Green's Luggage at Water Tower Place. According to Collins, James Buck waited outside the store. Merchandise was selected by defendant and Collins was directed to write a check for the purchase. A salesperson requested check approval from Telecredit and was informed that the check approval was limited to $600. Defendant then returned some of the merchandise and Collins wrote a check for $562.86. Defendant gave the purchased goods to Buck. A photograph of Buck was shown to the jury.

The final incident occurred the following day on Monday, March 10. Collins accompanied defendant and James Buck to Holland Jewelers in North Riverside where defendant selected a ring. Collins brought the wrong checkbook. Griffin threatened Collins. They returned to the store in the evening with the correct checkbook and at defendant's direction, Collins entered the store alone to make the purchase. After writing the check for $2,332, a clerk then called its check insurance company for approval. The clerk informed Collins that the store would not accept the check. Griffin then entered the store and after a telephone call to the vice-president by the store's assistant manager, the check was accepted. Again, Collins stopped payment on the check.

The foregoing incidents were corroborated by the testimony of various individuals, including salespersons from the various establishments. The parties also stipulated that if representatives from the various check guarantors were called to testify, they would testify that payments were made on account of the checks on which payment was stopped. In closing argument, counsel for defendant argued that the items were purchased by Collins as gifts for defendant.

Defendant was found guilty by the jury of four counts of theft and four counts of conspiracy to commit theft. The court sentenced defendant to four terms of five years on each of the four indictments for theft and conspiracy, which terms were to be served consecutively. Defendant appeals.

• 1 Defendant first contends that the trial court's comments to the jury about a plea bargain agreement between Dorothy Collins and the State was improper. During cross-examination of Collins concerning the agreement the court stated that "any and all agreements that this defendant — or this witness may have made has no bearing upon the charges pending on the defendant before the Bar." After the court sustained an objection a question as to whether Collins was to receive probation, the court indicated to the jury that the agreement between Collins and the State is a suggestion to the court and that the court is not bound by any agreement and will make its own determination. According to defendant, the court's comments restricted his right to effective cross-examination of witnesses. (See Davis v. Alaska (1974), 415 U.S. 308, 39 L.Ed.2d 347, 94 S.Ct. 1105; People v. Phillips (1981), 95 Ill. App.3d 1013, 420 N.E.2d 837.) Defendant argues that the court's comments diminished the impact of the State's ...


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