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10/23/87 the People of the State of v. East-West University

October 23, 1987

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT

v.

EAST-WEST UNIVERSITY, INC., ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES



APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, FIRST DISTRICT, FIFTH DIVISION

516 N.E.2d 482, 163 Ill. App. 3d 44, 114 Ill. Dec. 327 1987.IL.1580

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. John A. McElligott, Judge, presiding.

APPELLATE Judges:

PRESIDING JUSTICE SULLIVAN delivered the opinion of the court. LORENZ and MURRAY, JJ., concur.

DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE SULLIVAN

Pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 604(a)(1) (107 Ill. 2d R. 604(a)(1)), the State appeals from an order dismissing forgery charges against defendants, East-West University, Inc., Dr. Wasi Khan, Dr. Madhu Jain and Wilson Jordan. The State also appeals from an order joining for trial theft and conspiracy charges brought against the same defendants.

Defendants were charged in seven separate indictments with conspiracy to commit theft, theft and forgery. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 38, pars. 8-2(a), 16-1(b)(1), 17-3(a)(1).) The forgery counts alleged that defendants, with the intent to defraud, knowingly made documents apparently capable of defrauding another in such manner that they purported to have been made with different provisions. The counts variously described the documents as "all documentation required to receive Basic Educational Opportunity Grant funds," "Illinois State Scholarship Certifications" and "documentation required to receive Illinois Board of Higher Education Grant funds." The documents were "apparently capable of defrauding another" in that they "contained the names and credit hours of students, enrolled at East-West University, who were entitled" to the named funds "when, in fact, [defendants] knew that the documentation contained the names of persons who were not entitled to said funds."

Defendants East-West University, Dr. Wasi Khan and Dr. Madhu Jain filed joint superseding motions to dismiss all of the charges. *fn1 They asserted, inter alia, that "[the] charge does not state an offense" and that "[the] Indictment, and particularly Count Two [charging forgery], is so vague and uncertain that it fails to advise these Defendants with sufficient particularity of the charges which they are called upon to answer and to allow them to prepare their defense in violation of the due process clauses of the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of Illinois."

The trial court granted defendants' motions as to the forgery counts, denied their motions as to the theft and conspiracy to commit theft counts, then allowed defendants' motions to join the theft and conspiracy counts for trial. In dismissing the forgery counts, the court stated that the forgery statute does not encompass the conduct alleged in the indictments.

The State appealed both the order of dismissal and the order of joinder. Subsequently, the State struck, on leave to reinstate, the theft and conspiracy counts. On defendants' motion, we dismissed the State's appeal from the order joining for trial the indictment charging defendants with conspiracy to commit theft with the counts in the other indictments charging theft on the ground that the conspiracy indictment had been voluntarily dismissed. The State's appeal from the order joining the theft counts for trial will be discussed later in this opinion.

Section 111-3 of the Code of Criminal Procedure of 1963 requires, inter alia, that a charging instrument set forth "the nature and the elements of the offense charged." (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 38, par. 111-3(a)(3).) An indictment which charges an offense in the language of the statute is sufficient if the words of the statute particularize the offense so that an accused is apprised, with reasonable certainty, of the precise offense. (People v. Banks (1979), 75 Ill. 2d 383, 392, 388 N.E.2d 1244.) "'[The] forgery statute does define-particularize-the elements of forgery-thus a charge which uses the same language is valid.'" People v. Hockaday (1982), 93 Ill. 2d 279, 284, 443 N.E.2d 566, quoting People v. Young (1974), 19 Ill. App. 3d 455, 457, 311 N.E.2d 609. See also People v. Varellas (1985), 138 Ill. App. 3d 820, 824, 486 N.E.2d 388.

Defendants concede that the indictments generally attempted to charge the offense of forgery in the language of the statute which, ordinarily, would suffice. They assert, however, that the indictments were deficient for failure to identify and describe explicitly the instruments that were alleged to have been forged. (See People ex rel. Miller v. Pate (1969), 42 Ill. 2d 283, 285-88, 246 N.E.2d 225.)2 We disagree.

As noted earlier, the indictments described the forged instruments as "all documentation required to receive Basic Educational Opportunity Grant funds," "Illinois State Scholarship certifications" and "documentation required to receive Illinois Board of Higher Education Grant funds." The documents were prepared at various times between September 1981 and November 1982.

In light of the nature and extent of the forgeries involved, we believe that the indictments adequately identified for defendants the documents they were alleged to have forged. It would have been impractical and unwieldy to have described the documents with greater detail in the indictments and "[it] should be remembered that an indictment, as a preliminary proceeding, should contain no more than a cursory statement of the facts informing a defendant of the charge." (People v. Toolen (1983), 116 Ill. App. 3d 632, 656, 451 ...


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