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People v. Olson

August 06, 2004

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
MARGARET OLSON, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Du Page County. No. 01-CF-3385. Honorable Michael J. Burke, Judge, Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Hutchinson

PUBLISHED

After a bench trial, defendant, Margaret Olson, was convicted of forgery (720 ILCS 5/17--3(a)(1) (West 1998)) and sentenced to a year of conditional discharge. On appeal, defendant contends that she was not proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. We affirm.

The indictment alleged that, with the intent to defraud, defendant knowingly made a document capable of defrauding another. The allegedly fraudulent document is a 1999 quitclaim deed to real estate located in Washburn County, Wisconsin. Some background information, contained in documents admitted into evidence at trial, is necessary to place the deed in context. In 1985, defendant's mother, who owned the property in fee, died intestate. On November 18, 1989, defendant, as the personal representative of her mother's estate, conveyed the property from the estate to herself. On December 8, 1989, defendant, by warranty deed, conveyed the property to herself, her husband, Thomas Hueser, and her two daughters, Margo Hueser, now known as Margo Rinella, and Holly Hueser, now known as Holly Kabbe. The four grantees became joint tenants, each having a 25% interest in the property. In 1993, Thomas Hueser died, and, in July 1997, his interest in the property was officially terminated. As a result, defendant, Rinella, and Kabbe each owned a 33 1/3 % interest in the property as joint tenants. In 1996, defendant married Donald Olson. The allegedly fraudulent quitclaim deed is dated November 4, 1999, and was recorded on November 9, 1999, in Washburn County. The deed recites that defendant, Rinella, and Kabbe quitclaim their interest in the property to themselves and to Olson. The deed is ostensibly signed by defendant, Rinella, Kabbe, and Olson. However, it is undisputed that defendant forged her daughters' signatures after they refused to sign the deed. The deed contains an acknowledgment in which Marti Hubble, a notary public, states that, on November 4, 1999, defendant, Rinella, Kabbe, and Olson personally came before Hubble in Du Page County, Illinois, and executed the deed.

At trial, Rinella testified as follows. In July 1997, defendant asked Rinella to sign some documents so that Thomas Hueser's name could be removed from the deed to the property and replaced with Olson's name. Rinella refused to sign the papers. Defendant asked again, "then talked about doing a trust," but Rinella told her to "leave it as it was in one-third." Rinella wanted to hold onto her interest in the property and did not want Olson to "get it."

In November 1999, defendant again asked Rinella to sign some documents. Rinella refused. Defendant ceased her requests. In April 2001, Rinella checked with the Washburn County register of deeds' office and learned that what purported to be her and Kabbe's signatures were on a quitclaim deed that gave Olson, defendant, Rinella, and Kabbe each a 25% interest in the property. Defendant admitted to Rinella that she had forged Rinella's name on the deed.

In June 2001, Rinella offered not to make any complaints against defendant to law enforcement if defendant agreed, inter alia, that Olson would waive any interest in the property. Defendant declined Rinella's offer, although she said that she was willing to undo the quitclaim deed. In August 2001, Rinella contacted the Elmhurst police department. On November 29, 2001, Rinella signed a criminal complaint against defendant even though she knew that, the previous month, defendant filed an action in Wisconsin to void the 1999 deed. In June 2002, the Wisconsin court declared the deed void.

Michael Campise of the Elmhurst police department testified as follows. On August 17, 2001, he spoke to defendant. After Campise showed defendant the 1999 deed, she admitted that she had forged her daughters' signatures and had then presented the deed to Marti Hubble, a notary public, at a bank in Elmhurst. Defendant explained that she had wanted to give Olson an interest in the property. She knew that, under Wisconsin law, her daughters' signatures were required. Because they were unwilling to go along, defendant forged their signatures.

The parties stipulated that Hubble would testify as follows. At all pertinent times, she worked at a bank in Elmhurst, in Du Page County. Her duties included notarizing documents. On November 4, 1999, defendant asked her to notarize the quitclaim deed. Hubble could not recall whether the signatures of Olson, Rinella, and Kabbe were already on the deed. However, Hubble normally did not certify a person's signature unless the person was present. After certifying the deed, Hubble gave it back to defendant.

Defendant's first witness, Holly Kabbe, testified that, in July 2001, she talked with Rinella about some conditions that Rinella wanted to impose before allowing defendant to undo the 1999 deed. Later, Kabbe asked to have her name removed from the indictment against defendant because she did not consider herself a victim.

Defendant testified as follows. After she obtained full title to the Wisconsin property, she became concerned that, if anything happened to her, the property would have to go through probate in Wisconsin. Therefore, in 1989, she put the property into joint tenancy, giving herself, Thomas Hueser, Rinella, and Kabbe each a 25% interest in it. After Thomas Hueser died, defendant and her daughters each had a 33 1/3 % interest in the property. Later, defendant married Olson. Defendant testified that, in 1999, she wanted Olson to have a share of the property, just as Hueser had before he died. However, she also testified that she wished to put the property into a trust to make it "secure for [her] daughters only."

Defendant knew that to give Olson a share of the property, she needed her daughters' signatures. However, because Rinella and Kabbe would not sign the deed, defendant forged their signatures, then had Hubble notarize the deed at the bank in Elmhurst. Later, defendant filed the deed in Washburn County. Defendant never consulted a lawyer. She testified that she never intended to dilute her daughters' interests in the property from 33 1/3 % each to 25% each.

The trial court found defendant guilty. The trial court concluded that defendant knew that she needed her daughters' signatures on the deed in order to give Olson an interest in the property and that defendant intended to defraud not only her daughters but also the Washburn County register of deeds. Defendant was sentenced to a year of conditional discharge. She timely appealed.

On appeal, defendant contends that the State did not prove her guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of forgery. Defendant contends specifically that the State did not prove (1) that the offense occurred in Illinois, or (2) that she acted with the intent to defraud when she forged her ...


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