The opinion of the court was delivered by: GEORGE W. LINDBERG
The government has indicted defendant, David L. Goudy, on four counts of bank fraud pursuant to 18 USC § 1344. The indictment charges defendant with fraudulently obtaining a line of credit at Citibank Federal Savings Bank ("Citibank") through false misrepresentations as to his employment and income. The indictment further charges defendant with knowingly depositing $ 27,700 in worthless checks in his Citibank checking account and subsequently withdrawing $ 17,200 from the account shortly after the checks were deposited.
The government has filed a Rule 404(b) notice of intent to offer evidence of defendant's three prior convictions to prove his intent, knowledge and lack of mistake in engaging in the financial transactions charged in the indictment. The government seeks to introduce defendant's 1982 conviction in the Circuit Court of Broward County, Florida ("1982 Florida conviction") for three counts of grand theft and one count of engaging in an organized scheme to defraud the United Federal Savings & Loan Association with the use of a fraudulent $ 91,000 check. The check was deposited into the United Federal Savings & Loan and the proceeds withdrawn before United Federal could determine that the check was worthless. The government offers a 1985 federal conviction in this district ("1985 federal conviction") for seven counts of conspiracy, bank theft and transportation of stolen securities. This conviction involved a scheme to defraud Chicago-area financial institutions by depositing stolen or worthless out-of-state checks into the financial institutions and then withdrawing the proceeds before the insufficient funds were discovered. The government also seeks to introduce defendant's March 1993 federal conviction in the Eastern District of Wisconsin ("1993 federal conviction") for two counts of bank fraud. Defendant was convicted for depositing stolen out-of-state checks into Milwaukee-area financial institutions and subsequently withdrawing the proceeds.
Rule 404(b) of the Federal Rules of Evidence provides:
Evidence of other crimes, wrongs or acts is not admissible to prove the character of a person in order to show that he acted in conformity therewith. It may, however, be admissible for other purposes, such as proof of motive, opportunity, intent, preparation, plan, knowledge, identity or absence of mistake or accident.
FRE 404(b). The Seventh Circuit has set forth the following four part test for admissibility of Rule 404(b) "other crimes, wrings or acts" evidence" (1) the evidence must be directed toward establishing a matter in issue other than defendant's propensity to commit the crime charged; (2) the evidence must be substantially similar and close enough in time to be relevant to the matter in issue; (3) the evidence must be sufficient to support a finding by the jury that defendant committed the similar act; and (4) the probative value of the evidence must not be substantially outweighed by its prejudicial effect. United States v Hudson, 884 F.2d 1016, 1018-19 (7th Cir 1989).
Although the government did not specifically state in its Rule 404(b) notice that the bank fraud charges were specific intent crimes, the government indicated that it seeks to introduce this evidence in its case-in-chief because "it is required to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that defendant David L. Goudy knowingly and intentionally devised and executed the scheme to defraud described in the indictment." (Notice of Intent, p 2). The Seventh Circuit has distinguished between specific intent and general intent crimes for purposes of admission of Rule 404(b) evidence. United States v Shackleford, 738 F.2d 776, 781 (7th Cir 1984). The Seventh Circuit has created a per se rule for specific intent crimes which allows the government to introduce other acts evidence probative of intent in its case-in-chief as long as the requirements of Rule 404(b) are met. United States v Hudson, 884 F.2d 1016, 1022 (7th Cir 1989). However, if the crime charged is a general intent crime, the government cannot introduce Rule 404(b) evidence in its case-in-chief unless defendant first places his intent in issue:
We have previously distinguished between situations in which intent is an issue because the government must show specific intent as an essential element of the crime and when intent is only a formal issue that can be inferred from the act. When the crime charged requires proof of specific intent, we have held that, because it is a material element to be proved by the government, it is necessarily in issue and the government may submit evidence of other acts in an attempt to establish the matter in its case-in-chief, assuming the other requirements of Rules 404(b) and 403 are satisfied. E.g., United States v Weidman, 572 F.2d 1199, 1202 (7th Cir. 1978) (since in mail fraud case specific intent to defraud must be proved, government was entitled to introduce evidence of prior similar acts even though defendant had not disputed the issue by claiming he acted innocently or mistakenly). On the other hand, we have stated that when intent is only a formal issue, so that proof of the proscribed act gives rise to an inference of intent, then unless the government has reason to believe that the defense will raise intent as an issue, evidence of other acts directed toward this issue should not be used in the government's case-in-chief and should not be admitted until the defendant raises the issue.
Shackleford at 781. When the government must prove specific intent, however, defendant cannot prevent the introduction of evidence probative of intent by either failing to place his intent in issue or conceding the issue at trial:
Intent was an element of proof in this case because the defendants were charged with a specific intent crime, and thus defendants could not, by conceding this issue, bar the government from submitting evidence to prove an element of the offense.
In his objections to the government's notice of intent, defendant contends that the bank fraud charges are general intent crimes as the mental state set forth in the statute only requires that the conduct be "knowing." 18 USC § 1344.
Defendant further cites Shackleford, wherein the Seventh Circuit held that a statute with a general intent requirement of "knowing" was not a specific intent crime because the mental state could be inferred from the circumstances of the case. Id at 781. Defendant contends that the 1982 Florida conviction and the 1985 federal conviction are specific intent crimes and therefore not probative of his "knowledge" of the scheme to defraud. Because defendant asserts that the bank fraud charges are general intent crimes, the court assumes that defendant is further arguing that the proposed Rule 404(b) evidence is not admissible in the government's case-in-chief unless defendant places his intent in issue.
Other circuits have also found the bank fraud statute to be a specific intent crime. The Fifth Circuit determined that the requisite intent to defraud is established if defendant acted knowingly and with the specific intent to deceive, ordinarily for the purpose of causing some financial loss to another or bringing about some financial gain to himself. United States v Saks, 964 F.2d 1514, 1518 (5th Cir 1992). The Fifth Circuit noted that Congress modeled Section 1344 on the mail and wire fraud statutes and that the courts should look to case law construing those statutes in determining the scope and proper interpretation of the bank fraud statute. Sak at 1520, citing H R Rep No 901, 98th Cong, 2nd Sess 2 (1984); S Rep No 225, 98th Cong, 1st Sess 377 (1983).
The mail and wire fraud statutes have been commonly construed to be specific intent crimes. See United States v Weidman, 572 F.2d 1199, 1202 (7th ...