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7th Circuit affirms in part man’s convictions for producing fake documents

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There is enough evidence to support two of the three convictions of an East Chicago man stemming from his making and selling various counterfeit documents, but photocopies in his possession cannot support his conviction of unlawful possession of five or more false identification documents.

Christopher Spears was sentenced to 34 months imprisonment and three years of supervised release after being found guilty at trial of fraud during an attempted purchase of firearms, aggravated identity theft, producing false identification documents, possession of false identity documents with unlawful intent, and possession of an instrument designed to make a forged security. On appeal, he only challenges the aggravated identity theft, producing false identification documents, and possession of false identity documents convictions.

Spears sold Tirsah Payne a fraudulent handgun-carry permit that contained her actual identification information. Payne could not lawfully possess a gun. When Payne used the fake permit to attempt to buy a gun, the store became suspicious and reported it to the authorities. This led to Spears’ arrest and discovery of other fake documents.

In United States of America v. Christopher Spears, 11-1683, the 7th Circuit affirmed the conviction of aggravated identity theft. Spears argued that it couldn’t be identity theft if he used Payne’s actual information. His conduct falls within the literal terms of the statute because he “knowingly transfer[ed] … without lawful authority, a means of identification of another person” during or in relation to a predicate felony. His conviction of fraud during an attempted purchase of firearms relates to Payne’s attempt to buy a gun.

The judges affirmed his conviction of producing a false identification document, as the fake driver’s license underlying this count is sufficiently realistic that a reasonable jury could conclude that it appeared to be issued by the state of Indiana.

His conviction of unlawful possession of five or more false identification documents was reversed because, of the six pieces of evidence introduced to support this charge, only one would qualify. Two were photocopies of alleged fake driver’s licenses and three others were so clearly unprofessional that they do not appear to be issued by the state, the court held.

The judges remanded for resentencing.

 

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  1. Where may I find an attorney working Pro Bono? Many issues with divorce, my Disability, distribution of IRA's, property, money's and pressured into agreement by my attorney. Leaving me far less than 5% of all after 15 years of marriage. No money to appeal, disabled living on disability income. Attorney's decision brought forward to judge, no evidence ever to finalize divorce. Just 2 weeks ago. Please help.

  2. For the record no one could answer the equal protection / substantive due process challenge I issued in the first post below. The lawless and accountable only to power bureaucrats never did either. All who interface with the Indiana law examiners or JLAP be warned.

  3. Hi there I really need help with getting my old divorce case back into court - I am still paying support on a 24 year old who has not been in school since age 16 - now living independent. My visitation with my 14 year old has never been modified; however, when convenient for her I can have him... I am paying past balance from over due support, yet earn several thousand dollars less. I would contact my original attorney but he basically molest me multiple times in Indy when I would visit.. Todd Woodmansee - I had just came out and had know idea what to do... I have heard he no longer practices. Please help1

  4. Yes diversity is so very important. With justice Rucker off ... the court is too white. Still too male. No Hispanic justice. No LGBT justice. And there are other checkboxes missing as well. This will not do. I say hold the seat until a physically handicapped Black Lesbian of Hispanic heritage and eastern religious creed with bipolar issues can be located. Perhaps an international search, with a preference for third world candidates, is indicated. A non English speaker would surely increase our diversity quotient!!!

  5. First, I want to thank Justice Rucker for his many years of public service, not just at the appellate court level for over 25 years, but also when he served the people of Lake County as a Deputy Prosecutor, City Attorney for Gary, IN, and in private practice in a smaller, highly diverse community with a history of serious economic challenges, ethnic tensions, and recently publicized but apparently long-standing environmental health risks to some of its poorest residents. Congratulations for having the dedication & courage to practice law in areas many in our state might have considered too dangerous or too poor at different points in time. It was also courageous to step into a prominent and highly visible position of public service & respect in the early 1990's, remaining in a position that left you open to state-wide public scrutiny (without any glitches) for over 25 years. Yes, Hoosiers of all backgrounds can take pride in your many years of public service. But people of color who watched your ascent to the highest levels of state government no doubt felt even more as you transcended some real & perhaps some perceived social, economic, academic and professional barriers. You were living proof that, with hard work, dedication & a spirit of public service, a person who shared their same skin tone or came from the same county they grew up in could achieve great success. At the same time, perhaps unknowingly, you helped fellow members of the judiciary, court staff, litigants and the public better understand that differences that are only skin-deep neither define nor limit a person's character, abilities or prospects in life. You also helped others appreciate that people of different races & backgrounds can live and work together peacefully & productively for the greater good of all. Those are truths that didn't have to be written down in court opinions. Anyone paying attention could see that truth lived out every day you devoted to public service. I believe you have been a "trailblazer" in Indiana's legal community and its judiciary. I also embrace your belief that society's needs can be better served when people in positions of governmental power reflect the many complexions of the population that they serve. Whether through greater understanding across the existing racial spectrum or through the removal of some real and some perceived color-based, hope-crushing barriers to life opportunities & success, movement toward a more reflective representation of the population being governed will lead to greater and uninterrupted respect for laws designed to protect all peoples' rights to life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness. Thanks again for a job well-done & for the inevitable positive impact your service has had - and will continue to have - on countless Hoosiers of all backgrounds & colors.

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