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UNITED STATES v. JOHNSON

November 3, 1989

UNITED STATES of AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
HAROLD JOHNSON, Defendant



The opinion of the court was delivered by: SHADUR

 MILTON I. SHADUR, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

 After this Court had ruled on all pending motions and had set this case for trial, counsel for defendant Harold Johnson ("Johnson") and the government advised this Court that agreement had been reached to conduct the trial as a stipulated bench trial. Having then conducted the appropriate extended inquiry on the waivers required for that purpose, this Court finds that Johnson has knowingly and voluntarily waived his constitutional rights:

 
1. to a jury trial,
 
2. to cross-examination of the witnesses whose testimony would be needed to provide the trier of fact with the evidence referred to in (a) Stipulation No. 1 as to Johnson's fingerprint, (b) Stipulation No. 2 as to Johnson's handwriting and (c) the stipulations as to what would be the testimony of United States Postal Service employees Jimmie Williams ("Williams") and Martha Fletcher ("Fletcher") and United States Postal Inspector C.M. Gause ("Gause") and
 
3. to the presentation of Johnson's testimony on his own behalf.

 Accordingly Johnson's trial on the one-count indictment in this case has been conducted as a bench trial based on the stipulations that form the agreed-upon record in the case.

 Johnson is charged with a violation of 18 U.S.C. ยง 500 ("Section 500"). To sustain that charge the United States must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Johnson knowingly converted to his own use a blank money order provided by the United States Postal Service. In each instance the following findings by this Court reflect its determinations as to what the evidence has established beyond a reasonable doubt.

 United States Postal Service Money Order No. 30201571574 (the "Money Order") was stolen from the Haymarket Postal Station, 168 West Clinton Street, Chicago, Illinois in an armed robbery at about 1:55 p.m. August 22, 1988. *fn1" Just over two hours later Johnson appeared at another postal station (the Midwest Postal Station, 3045 West Washington Boulevard, Chicago, Illinois) and presented the Money Order to Williams for payment, exhibiting two identification documents of his own. Johnson had filled in the blanks on the Money Order in his own handwriting, and his fingerprint appears on the Money Order.

 Williams recognized the Money Order as a "bait money order" *fn2" and reported it to his supervisor. Under instructions from the supervisor, Williams then asked Johnson to wait. While Johnson was waiting he asked Williams if the Money Order was "good" and then added that he knew it was because his brother had sent it to him from somewhere in Illinois. Although Williams is unable to recall the location in Illinois to which Johnson referred, Williams does remember that the stated location was not in Chicago.

 Williams then observed Johnson walk away from his window and confer with an unknown male in the customer area of the postal station. After that Johnson returned to Williams' window and demanded the return of the Money Order. When Williams assured him that it would be only a few more minutes, Johnson walked away from the window and left the postal station -- leaving behind him the Money Order and his Illinois Department of Public Aid photo identification card (one of the two identification pieces he had exhibited) -- without saying anything more to anyone in the postal station.

 One year later Johnson was arrested in connection with the investigation of the armed robbery. At that time his statement to Postal Inspector Gause was that he had found the Money Order on the curb of the sidewalk outside a McDonald's Restaurant that was not too far from his own residence or from the Midwest Postal Station. It is also worth noting *fn3" that the McDonald's Restaurant to which Johnson referred was about 2.5 miles from the place where the Money Order had been stolen (the Haymarket Postal Station) ...


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