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People v. Lashmett

OPINION FILED AUGUST 1, 1984.

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

v.

DAN D. LASHMETT, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Scott County; the Hon. Gordon D. Seator, Judge, presiding.

JUSTICE TRAPP DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Rehearing denied August 30, 1984.

A jury found defendant Dan Lashmett guilty of felony theft, three counts of official misconduct, and deceptive practice. The trial court sentenced defendant to concurrent terms of 27 months' imprisonment for felony theft, one count of official misconduct, and deceptive practice, and ordered him to pay $5,800 in restitution. On appeal, defendant argues the trial court erred in refusing to allow him to impeach a State's witness with a guilty verdict returned by a Federal jury and in refusing to instruct the jury on the testimony of an accomplice. We affirm.

In early April of 1982, defendant, commissioner of Road District No. 4 in Scott County, asked Robert Staples, vice-president of Winchester National Bank, for a loan. Defendant told Staples he wanted to purchase a used truck along with two other pieces of equipment for the road district. Staples advised defendant that he would need a copy of the bill of sale and the highway superintendent's authorization before giving the loan.

On April 15, defendant told Richard Brown, superintendent of highways, that the road district needed to purchase a new truck. Defendant also informed Brown that he already had a truck in mind. Brown told defendant to purchase it after getting financing. Brown never checked out the truck, but he had seen defendant using a red two-ton Chevrolet, which he assumed defendant intended to purchase.

On the same day, defendant brought a bill of sale for a truck to Geraldine McQuire, clerk of Road District No. 4. McQuire drew a check for $5,800 payable to Dean Lindsey Auto Sales. Both McQuire and defendant signed the check.

Defendant also returned to the bank on April 15. He gave Staples a bill of sale for a truck. The bill of sale described a 1976 truck with serial number 416060H794129. Relying on the bill of sale and defendant's statement that the truck was a 1976 two-ton Chevrolet, Staples executed a note for $7,500, $5,800 of which represented the purchase price of the truck. Defendant signed the note that morning, and Brown and McQuire signed it later in the day.

A few months later, McQuire received a certificate of title from the State. The date of transfer on the title was April 15. The title, however, described a 1968 International truck with serial number 416060H794129. McQuire delivered the title to the bank. She never received a title for a 1976 Chevrolet truck.

In May 1982, police stopped defendant while he was driving a red 1971 Chevrolet truck. Illinois state police Corporal Paul Brown testified the truck was missing its vehicle identification number (V.I.N.). Brown investigated and discovered the truck had been stolen. Brown also testified that some V.I.N. tags were found at defendant's home, and he believed the V.I.N. tag to the 1971 Chevrolet was recovered. The 1971 Chevrolet had municipal plates on it, but those plates were registered to a 1965 dump truck which the road district owned.

On May 14, 1982, the Scott County sheriff impounded the 1968 International truck. An appraiser estimated its present value at $1,200 and stated it probably sold for $5,700 when new. The title history of the truck showed defendant owned it and sold it to Dean Lindsey. Lindsey then transferred title to the road district. Defendant's signature as commissioner appeared on the application to transfer title from Lindsey to the road district. Thus, the road district owns defendant's 1968 International truck, while liable to the bank for $5,800 for the purchase of a 1976 Chevrolet truck.

Lindsey testified at trial for the State. Lindsey, the owner of Dean's Auto Body & Auto Sales in Morgan County, had known defendant for three or four years. On April 14, 1982, defendant came to Lindsey with a proposition. If Lindsey purchased defendant's 1968 International truck for $5,700, then he could resell it to the road district for $5,800 and keep the extra $100 for filling out the paper work. Lindsey did not understand why defendant did not sell his truck directly to the road district, except defendant stated it would look better coming to the clerk from a car dealer rather than himself.

Lindsey agreed to the transaction and wrote up a bill of sale. On April 15, Lindsey wrote a check for $5,700 without seeing the truck. Lindsey dated his check April 16 because the banks were already closed on the 15th. Defendant gave Lindsey a check for $5,800 drawn from the road district's account. Both checks were cashed. Lindsey also filled out a title transfer application and a sales tax return reporting the sale of a 1968 International truck to the road district. Lindsey testified both he and defendant signed the sales tax return in front of a notary.

Defendant's signature appears on both the title transfer application and the notarized sales tax return. Lindsey's carbon copy of the bill of sale was also produced. There are two differences between Lindsey's copy and the copy Staples received. The transfer date on Lindsey's copy had been changed from April 14 to April 15. Lindsey admitted he changed the date so it would correspond to the date on the other documents. Lindsey's copy was for a 1968 truck while Staples' copy had been altered to read 1976. Lindsey denied changing those numbers.

Defendant's version of the transaction differed substantially from Lindsey's. Defendant had been acquainted with Lindsey for four or five years, and in 1981 Lindsey agreed to find a good four-wheel drive pickup for defendant. Defendant was to trade in several vehicles for the pickup. In December, Lindsey took possession of defendant's 1971 Dodge pickup. Lindsey did not get the title because defendant had recently bought the pickup and had not yet received title from the State. Lindsey took defendant's 1975 Cadillac in March 1982. Lindsey also took parts from defendant's 1973 pickup. In April, Lindsey had the pickup that defendant wanted, but he did not yet have clear title. Defendant, therefore, asked to be paid for the vehicles Lindsey had already taken. Lindsey agreed to pay defendant $5,700 for those vehicles ...


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