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People v. Chenoweth

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Fourth District

October 11, 2013

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
BARBARA J. CHENOWETH, Defendant-Appellant.

Held [*]

Defendant’s conviction for unlawful financial exploitation of an elderly person was reversed where the indictment and subsequent information were filed after the three-year limitation period had expired, notwithstanding the State’s claim that the extended statute of limitations applied based on the filing of the indictment and subsequent information within one year of the date of the State’s Attorney’s “discovery of the offense, ” i.e., the date he became aware of the investigative file, since the crucial date for purposes of the extended statute of limitations was the date the aggrieved person discovered the offense and, here, that was the date the aggrieved person learned that defendant had written unauthorized checks from the aggrieved person’s account, and the indictment was filed more than one year after that date.

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Adams County, No. 09-CF-725; the Review Hon. William O. Mays, Judge, presiding.

Michael J. Pelletier, Karen Munoz, and Janieen R. Tarrance, all of State Appellate Defender's Office, of Springfield, for appellant.

Jonathan H. Barnard, State's Attorney, of Quincy (Patrick Delfino, Robert J. Biderman, and Anastacia R. Brooks, all of State's Attorneys Appellate Prosecutor's Office, of counsel), for the People.

Panel JUSTICE KNECHT delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justice Holder White concurred in the judgment and opinion. Justice Pope dissented, with opinion.

OPINION

KNECHT JUSTICE

¶ 1 In January 2012, following a bench trial, defendant, Barbara J. Chenoweth, was found guilty of unlawful financial exploitation of an elderly person (720 ILCS 5/16-1.3(a) (West 2004)).

¶ 2 In March 2012, defendant filed (1) a motion to vacate judgment and dismiss the cause due to the expiration of the statute of limitations and (2) a motion to vacate judgment and dismiss the cause due to failure of the State to prove defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. In April 2012, the trial court denied both motions and defendant was sentenced to four years' probation and ordered to pay $32, 266 restitution.

¶ 3 On appeal, defendant asserts (1) her conviction and sentence for unlawful financial exploitation of an elderly person (720 ILCS 5/16-1.3(a) (West 2004)) must be vacated because the indictment and later information charging her with the offense (a) were filed after the statute of limitations had expired and (b) failed to allege any circumstances that would extend the limitations period; and (2) if her conviction and sentence are affirmed, she is entitled to $5 credit against her fine for time spent in pretrial custody.

¶ 4 I. BACKGROUND

¶ 5 In October 2008, Detective Thomas Liesen was contacted by Vickie Tipton, head of guardianship for the West Central Illinois Area Agency on Aging (Agency on Aging), and Donna Schutte, the Illinois state regional ombudsman for the area. They informed him money from the March 2005 sale of Ella Stathakis' home was missing. At the time of the March 2005 sale through August 2008, defendant held the power of attorney for Ella. In September 2008, Lynn Niewohner from the Agency on Aging became Ella's power of attorney.

¶ 6 On October 15, 2008, Detective Liesen interviewed Ella. According to Detective Liesen, Ella "was wondering where the funds went from the sale of her home, wanted to know where it went. She had never been told, and she just wanted to know where it was." Two days later, he issued a subpoena for her Bank of America records. He received the records in the mail on December 2, 2008.

ΒΆ 7 While examining Ella's bank records, Detective Liesen noticed several checks written by defendant and drawn on Ella's account did not appear to be for Ella's benefit. These included multiple checks written for cash and to Mark Twain Casinos, one to the utility company for defendant's address, and one to the telephone company for defendant's daughter's telephone. On December 5, 2008, Detective Liesen spoke with Ella ...


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