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Court split on man’s forgery conviction

June 22, 2012

The Indiana Court of Appeals was divided over whether a man who used another person’s Social Security number and a false identification should have been convicted of forgery under a 2005 amendment to the law.

Rafael Bocanegra got a job in 2010 with Keystone RV Co. in Goshen by listing his name as “John Giron” on the application and providing a Social Security number and card that had the name “John Giron” on it. He also had an identification card allegedly issued by Ohio that had the name “John Giron.” When the real John Giron received a letter from the IRS accusing him of not reporting income from Keystone, an investigation showed Bocanegra used Giron’s identification to get the job.

He was charged with and convicted of Class C felony forgery and identity deception as a Class D felony, but he was only sentenced on the forgery conviction.

The majority relied on Lohmiller v. State, 884 N.E.2d 903 (Ind. Ct. App. 2008), to affirm that Bocanegra had intended to defraud his employer and Keystone could suffer potential injury. An amendment in 2005 – enacted after Lohmiller committed her offenses – creates a lesser offense to the Class C felony forgery: counterfeiting. The intent to defraud is not needed to convict one of counterfeiting. The state did not charge Bocanegra with counterfeiting.

While the majority in Rafael Bocanegra v. State of Indiana, 20A03-1108-CR-361, found Bocanegra’s argument that Keystone didn’t sustain any actual injury persuasive, the judges pointed to Indiana decisions after the 2005 amendment that indicate actual injury doesn’t need to be proven to convict of forgery. They ordered that his identity deception conviction be vacated.

Senior Judge Patrick Sullivan dissented, finding there must be an actual injury to prove that Bocanegra committed fraud.

“The fact remains, however, that Bocanegra performed the work for which he was hired and paid. I discern no legally cognizable harm to Keystone from that. One might deduce that by hiring Bocanegra, Keystone was incurring a prospective or possible inquiry and sanctions for hiring an illegal alien,” he wrote. “Nevertheless, such speculative ‘harm’ does not meet the requirement for proof of a legal harm or injury.”

Sullivan would reverse the forgery conviction and leave in place the identity deception conviction.

 

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